Assisting Voters with Disabilities
Under both state and federal law, Ohio polling locations are required to be accessible with disabilities. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requires that all voters must have the ability to independently cast a private ballot. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sets standards for ensuring that people with disabilities have equal access to public services and facilities, including polling locations.
Here are some guidelines for PEOs when interacting or communicating with all voters who have disabilities.
Be Courteous and respectful
Allow a little extra time to get things done. It is considerate to offer a seat and give unhurried attention to the elderly, those with disabilities, and those who have difficulty speaking or hearing
Always speak directly to the voter and not to their companion, aide or interpreter
ASK before you help. The person may not want or need assistance. Don’t insist; respect the voter’s wishes.
Never distract a service animal; they are working
If your voting location is in a building with several routes through it, be sure that there are sufficient signs to direct people to the most accessible way around the facility.
Prior to election day, a voter may designate an attorney-in-fact , who is a person eligible to sign all election related documents on behalf of the voter. Such signing must be done in the voter’s presence. The attorney-in-fact designation is specific to Ohio election law and not a general power of attorney. If such an attorney-at-fact is on file with the board of elections, a notation will appear after the voter’s name in the Signature Poll Book and Poll List
Upon the voter’s request, they may also receive assistance from two PEOs, each from a different political party.
Assisting Voters With Specific Disabilities
Voters needing assistance reading/marking the ballot due to blindness, disability, or Illiteracy may ask for assistance from the individual of their choice with the exception of:
An agent of their employer
An officer or agent of their union
A candidate on the precinct’s ballot
Voters In Wheelchairs Or With Mobility Impairments
Make sure chairs are available for the disabled, ill, elderly or pregnant
Make sure signs are posted inside and out with regard to parking and other conveniences
Do not push or touch a person’s wheelchair without prior consent
Do not lean or hang on a person’s wheelchair; adaptive equipment is an extension of the body and part of someone’s personal space
Place yourself at eye level by sitting or kneeling when speaking with someone in a wheelchair so that they don’t have to look up at you to communicate
Ask before helping. Grabbing someone’s elbow might throw them off balance. Opening the door for someone leaning on a door might cause them to fall
Fasten mats and throw rugs securely or move them out of the way
Keep floors as dry as possible on rainy or snowy days
Keep the ramps and wheelchair-accessible doors to the voting location unlocked and barrier-free
Voters Who Have Speech Or Hearing Impairments
Gently tap a person who has a hearing impairment on the shoulder or wave your hand to get their attention
Follow the voter’s cues to determine whether speaking, gesturing or writing is the most effective method of communication
Listen carefully and never pretend to understand; instead repeat what you understood and allow the person to respond
Do not shout. Your facial expressions, gestures, and body movements can aid in understanding. Face the voter at all times (they may be able to read lips), and keep your face in full light
Ask questions that require only short answers or a nod of the head
Voters Who Are Deaf
Gently tap a person who is deaf or has a hearing impairment on the shoulder, or wave your hand to get their attention
Identify who you are by showing your name badge
When speaking to the voter, do so calmly, slowly and directly. Do not shout or exaggerate
Communicate in writing, if necessary
If you are not understood at first, repeat or rephrase your thought
Voters Who Are Visually Impaired
Identify yourself and state that you are a precinct official as soon as you come in contact with the voter
Ask if you may be of assistance and verbally offer your arm to the voter. If assistance is accepted, gently place your arm under the hand of the voter rather than taking the voter’s arm
If the voter has a guide dog, walk on the opposite side of the voter from the dog. Do not feed, pet or otherwise distract the dog without permission of the owner
When giving verbal directions to navigate the voting location, be as specific as possible and indicate obstacles in the path of travel.
Let the voter know if you are going to leave them
Remember that visual impairment or blindness does not equal hearing impairment; do not shout
ADA Compliant Equipment
PICTURE OF A PERFECT POLLING PLACE
The Voto Carts that are delivered to each polling location will include ADA Equipment to be set up at the voting location.
ADA COMPLIANT EQUIPMENT MAY INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
Van Accessible Sign
Alternate Entrance Sign