Polling Place Accessibility

Your polling place should have:

  • Accessible parking
  • Accessible passenger drop-off areas
  • Walkways wide enough for a wheelchair or walker, and that are free of debris, snow, or ice
  • Signs that clearly point you to the accessible entrance
  • Magnifying devices
  • Seating for voters who need it while waiting
  • Doors that have levers or push bar handles (or that are propped open)
  • Doors on the accessible route that are unlocked and can be opened by you
  • Pathway inside the polling place that does not have objects in your way
  • Doors, hallways and voting areas that are wide enough for your wheelchair or walker
  • Permanent or temporary ramps where needed
  • Elevators in working condition where applicable

If you would like to learn more about polling place accessibility, the U.S. Department of Justice’s ADA website has a helpful checklist that goes into details about physical accessibility standards.  You can view or download the guide at http://www.ada.gov/votingck.htm.   The checklist is based on the requirements from the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which can be downloaded or viewed at http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/2010ADAStandards/2010ADAstandards.htm.  The Standards are based on the requirements found in federal ADA regulations.


Assistance in the Polls

Voters with physical or mobility disabilities

You can request assistance with:

  • Filling out paperwork
  • Adjusting the voting machine (such as bringing it down to your wheelchair)
  • Removing barriers from your path
  • Opening doors
  • Being provided seating as needed
  • Moving to the front of the line if feasible (and necessary)

Voters with cognitive and intellectual disabilities

You can request assistance with:

  • Simplifying the steps to casting a ballot
  • Understanding how the voting machine works
  • Reading the ballot
  • You may bring completed sample ballots to help you remember your selection
  • Communicating, including:
    • Communication board
    • Voter-owned communication boxes
    • Voter’s choice of companion or assistant to help the voter communicate

Voters with visual, hearing, or communication disabilities

You can request assistance with:

  • Changing the color contrast on the voting machine (if applicable)
  • Using the audio headset on the voting machine (which includes headphones so you can hear the ballot)
  • Being helped with where to go
  • Tactile markers on voting machines
  • Materials in large print (if available)
  • Magnifying Lenses
  • Signature guides to help you sign your name
  • Communicating, including:
    • Communication boards
    • Voter-owned communication boxes
    • Voter’s choice of companion or assistant to help the voter communicate[1]

Most election materials, announcements and forms are available at www.elections.delaware.gov and/or https://ivote.de.gov/.  Delaware also has a free TDD relay service, which you can use to obtain election and voting information. Call “711” and give the operator the toll free help line number for the County from which you are calling:

  • New Castle County 577- 3000
  • Kent County 800-464-4357
  • Sussex County 800-464-4357
  • Outside Delaware 800-273-9500

Voters with service animals

Your service dog or miniature horse can assist you at the polling place.

Voters who desire assistance by another person

Any voter who requires assistance because of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write may be given assistance by a person of the voter’s choice.[2]  However, you cannot use an employer, agent of your employer, or union representative (if the voter is a member of a union).  If you need assistance but do not choose to bring someone with you to the polls, you may be given assistance by poll workers (you will be provided assistance by two poll workers, each of opposite parties).  Remember – your helper must respect YOUR choices.

[1] See Voters who desire assistance by another person, below.

[2] 15 Del. C. § 4943(a).  For federal elections, see also: 42 U.S.C. § § 1973aa-6.  However, there is some contrary state law that provides a criminal penalty for anyone entering the voting room with a voter who is not the voter’s minor child, State Election Commissioner/Department of Elections employees, political challengers, etc. (15 Del. C. §§ 5117, 4933, and 4937).  Importantly, according to the State Election Commissioner, they are not enforcing this provision with respect to individuals who need assistance in the voting booth (private communication with the Election Commissioner, September 26, 2014).  Such assistance was authorized by 15 Del. C. § 4943(a) and it was a mistake in legislative drafting that this was not made an exception for the purposes of the criminal penalty in section 5117.  Office of the State Election Commissioner materials specifically state that you can have assistance from anyone of your choice (other than employers and union representatives).  See Voting in Delaware: A Guide for Citizens with Disabilities, pg. 11 (available at http://elections.delaware.gov/voter/pdfs/Voting%20in%20Delaware.pdf).

Current as of September 2014