Wednesday, September 21, 2016
A guide to accessible voting in Utah
By Nate Crippes
Staff attorney, Disability Law Center
“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” – Lyndon B. Johnson
Voting is an immensely important act. Democracy relies on each and every citizen using their vote as their voice. Since democracy relies on every citizen, it is also very important that every citizen have access to the polls. Thankfully, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) did a lot to ensure that polling places meet the needs of everyone.
However, because voting is also an incredibly personal act, access alone is not enough. HAVA says that each person must be able to vote as privately and independently as any other person. That is why HAVA requires each polling place to have an immensely important piece of assistive technology, an accessible voting machine.
Now, some of you may have already received a notice about voting by mail this election season. At this time, 21 of Utah’s 29 counties have moved to vote by mail this year. So what does this mean for those who may require an accessible voting machine to vote independently and privately?
The counties that have moved to vote by mail usually have a few polling places available on Election Day. Contact your county clerk for more information on this.
If you happen to live in a county that does traditional voting rather than vote by mail, you will also have the option to vote early at some polling locations. These locations will also have an accessible voting machine. For more information on early voting contact your county clerk’s office.
If you need help finding your polling place, go to vote.utah.gov.
If you experience any problems with voting on Election Day, whether by mail or traditional means, the Disability Law Center (DLC) will have a voting hotline, (800) 662-9080, to answer your questions while polls are open.
In addition, if you have any questions or concerns about voting prior to Election Day, please do not hesitate to contact the DLC at the same number or at disabilitylawcenter.org.