Voting absentee is a safe option during the COVID-19 pandemic, but requires a witness. Someone who is blind or visually impaired may also need an assistant to ensure their ballot is marked correctly.
According to a study by Rutgers University, voting among people with disabilities increased by 8.5 percent in 2018. This meant that nearly half of people with disabilities, or 14.3 million people, voted, after declining between 2010 and 2016. The report also showed that if people with disabilities voted at the same rate as people without, 2 million more people would participate in the civic duty of voting.
The Council’s role is to advocate for elimination of accessibility barriers in the voting process. We educate Wisconsinites on how the voting process works and what their rights are as voters who are blind or visually impaired. Do you have a voting plan for the November 3rd election? This article provides resources so you can look at the options, be prepared to vote and make an informed choice when casting your ballot.
The Council is cohosting a webinar along with Vision Forward, Disability Rights Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition on Wednesday, September 9 from 7-8 p.m. Learn about common barriers people who are blind or visually impaired face while voting and important information about the 2020 election. Register for the Zoom webinar at Register for this Zoom webinar by Friday, September 4 with this link: , watch the Facebook Live video or the recording on the Council’s YouTube channel.
- The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin: Anyone can use this resource to get candidate information, polling locations and what you need to know about the Voting ID rules and your rights as a voter in Wisconsin. Candidate information is to be published September 16. Check back at that time to know where candidates stand on issues important to you.
- NFB Newsline: This free service from the National Federation of the Blind provides access to newspapers from communities across Wisconsin, from other states and around the world in accessible formats. Available by telephone, online, via an IOS app and through devices such as the Victor Reader Trek. The Wisconsin Elections channel currently lists contact information for Disability Rights Wisconsin as a resource if voters who are blind or visually impaired face barriers registering to vote, obtaining a voter ID or getting to the polls on Election Day. This service provides access to newspapers, breaking news content and Associated Press information, which could inform on upcoming elections.
Important Dates and Deadlines:
Mark your calendar so you remember these important dates and deadlines.
- Election day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
- The deadline to register online to vote is Wednesday, October 14, 2020.
- The deadline for registering by mail to vote is (postmarked by) Wednesday, October 14, 2020.
- The deadline to register in person to vote is Friday, October 30, 2020.
- The deadline to request a ballot by mail is Thursday, October 29, 2020.
- The early voting period runs from Tuesday, October 20, 2020 to Sunday, November 1, 2020, but dates and hours may vary based on where you live.
- You can also register and vote on Election Day at your polling place. Find your polling place at MyVote.wi.gov.
What You Can Do:
Following is a checklist of actions you can take so you are prepared to vote.
- Visit MyVote.wi.gov. Check your voter registration status and register to vote if you need to do so.
- Make a voting plan whether you’re voting absentee or heading to the polls on Tuesday, November 3. This is important due to the additional barriers and complications that people who are blind or visually impaired face at the polls. The following questions and considerations may help:
- If you need to register to vote, who could assist you in this process?
- If you need to get a photo ID, how will you get to the DMV to obtain one? You can also get an ID just for voting. Learn more at https://elections.wi.gov/elections-voting/photo-id. If you need assistance, call (844) 588-1069.
- Plan how you will vote, absentee or in-person.
- If voting in-person, how will you get there? Who will assist you in finding the accessible voting machine or marking your ballot?
- If voting absentee, who will assist you in marking your ballot and signing your envelope as a witness?
- Take some time to contemplate what issues are most important to you.
- Subscribe to an email list of a source of candidate information you trust, based on those important issues.
- Attend local town hall meetings and ask questions of local candidates, so you know where they stand on issues important to you. Meetings may be happening virtually or in-person; check your local community’s website for more details.
For additional resources, visit WCBlind.org/2020/05/your-right-to-vote-during-the-pandemic/to review your rights for voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition, of which the Council is a member, provides information and resources for voters with disabilities at .
A little preparation and forethought today could make the voting process go more smoothly. Know your rights, know your choices and know how you will cast your ballot.
Note: As a non-partisan nonprofit organization, the Council does not give advice about candidates or voting decisions.