Voters with Disabilities and the
2012 Election
Pre-Election Preparation
 In October and Early November prior to the election,
Disability Rights Ohio travelled to 25 institutions
across Ohio to give information to people with
disabilities about their voting rights
 Facilities visited included: nursing facilities, assisted
living facilities, intermediate care facilities for people
with intellectual disabilities, state-operated
developmental centers and psychiatric hospitals, and
residential care facilities
Election Day Hotline
 On the day of the election, Disability Rights Ohio
operated a hotline to address voting issues,
problems, or concerns of people with disabilities
 Received 15 calls throughout the day
 Many only needed advice or information
 Others required greater assistance and involvement
– one even required emergency litigation
Other Information Gathering
 Prior to the election, Disability Rights received
numerous phone calls concerning voting rights
through the normal intake process
 Disability Rights Ohio contacted 9 state-operated
development centers and 3 state psychiatric
hospitals after the election to inquire about voting
experiences of people with disabilities
 Partnered with Self Advocates Becoming Empowered
(SABE) to conduct an exit poll from voters with
disabilities about their experience
Problem #1 – Emergency Hospitalization
 Some individuals with disabilities who were
unexpectedly hospitalized on Election Day faced
significant barriers to voting
 Hospitalized within their county of residence:
An individual may request the ballot before 3 pm on election
The Board of Elections is required to send two employees to
the hospital to deliver the ballot, assist in completing it, and
return it to the county board of elections
In two cases, Disability Rights Ohio was able to use this system
to promptly and effectively facilitate voting by hospitalized
people with disabilities
Voters Hospitalized Outside their County
 With only 6 state psychiatric hospitals, this is the more
likely scenario
 The County Board is only required by state law to mail an
absentee ballot to the voter
 In two cases, Disability Rights Ohio requested reasonable
accommodations under the ADA for individuals to be
allowed an equal opportunity to cast their vote
In one case, the counties cooperated and were able to accommodate
the hospitalized voter
In the other case, accommodation was refused, and emergency
litigation was required to force the Secretary of State to count the
Problem #2 – Use of Signature Stamp
 The County Board of Election would not accept an
application for an absentee ballot without a
handwritten signature
 An individual was disabled and used a signature
 After Disability Rights Ohio’s involvement, the
Secretary of State allowed the stamp as a reasonable
accommodation for the handwritten signature
 The State adequately resolved the problem, but only
when it was brought to its attention
Problem #3 – Obligations of State Facilities
 The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities
(DODD) has an affirmative duty to inquire whether
applicants for its services want to register to vote,
and assist them in the process
 However, not all state facilities provided this
information, especially if the individual had a
developmental disability or an appointed guardian
Problem #4 – Inaccessible Polling Locations
 One polling location was not accessible for people
with wheelchairs
 Several other polling locations did not have
sufficiently private machines for voters with

to see the presentation from Kavin Truitts (ppt file).