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Last Updated on October 22, 2019

Like any other United States citizens 18 and over, older voters and voters with disabilities have the right to vote. However, this was not always the case. Up until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, those volunteering or working at polling places could turn those with disabilities away if they deemed they were not able to vote. Also, voting accessibility was also an issue, with very many polling places not being wheelchair- or disability-friendly, thus preventing people from voting.Image of an elderly person voting for an article about voting rights for the disabled or elderly.

Read on to learn more about elderly and disabled voting rights, and how to handle situations if you feel you’re being discriminated against. 

Elderly and Disabled Voting Rights: The Voting Rights Act of 1965

As of 2019, there are many standards and laws put into place when it comes to the rights of voters with disabilities. However, the precursor to them all was the Voting Rights Act of 1965. While this act covered many facets of voter’s rights, it helped people with disabilities greatly, offering the elderly and disabled voting rights. For instance, after this act, a blind person must receive help from those at the polling place to help him or her vote. Also, this prohibited voters being excluded from voting if they could not read or write.

Elderly and Disabled Voting Rights: The ADA

The act that has helped with elderly and disabled voting rights the most is the ADA. The Americans with Disabilities Act put voting rights in place for those who are disabled or elderly. It essentially protects elderly and disabled voting rights, similarly to protection against discrimination due to race, color, religion, age, or gender. The ADA also has clear outlines when it comes to voting accommodations. This further cemented the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984, which states handicapped and disabled persons should have “the fundamental right to vote by improving access for handicapped and elderly individuals to registration facilities and polling places for Federal elections.”

Elderly and Disabled Voting Rights: Voting Accommodations

As of 2019, most polling places have been updated to reflect the needs of those with disabilities. However, there still remain polling places that have not yet been updated, which is a serious blow to voting rights. Perhaps the building itself is not accessible, or there is not an adequate wheelchair ramp. In this case, it’s a good idea to contact your town or municipality directly, but you can also report violations directly to the ADA.

If you have ever wondered, “what is curbside voting,” some towns do offer voting from the car if the polling place has not yet been updated to meet the needs of the elderly or disabled.

Many elderly and disabled persons also choose to vote absentee. Even though as part of disabled voting rights, they must be provided with accommodating, it’s perfectly acceptable to vote from home. However, you must register in advance with your town, likely with proof of disability, in order to vote absentee. If you are blind or disabled and need help at the polling place, help must be provided to you. 

If you need more information on elderly or disabled voting rights, or would like information on mobility products that can help improve the quality of life, such as stair lifts or wheelchair ramps, contact Williams Lift Co. today. We are dedicated to helping both caregivers and patients live their best lives.

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