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May 28, 2019Advocacy Matters

Advocacy Matters: Election Assistance Commission

Disability Matters Radio Show

#AdvocacyMatters Segment

May 28, 2019


Public Comment: Election Assistance Commission

Advocacy happens on many fronts.  One of the more common methods of advocacy is through the public comment period.  Local, state, and federal agencies implement laws through regulations.  Those regulations must go through a public comment period.

Tomorrow is the final day for the public to submit comments on new Voluntary Voting System Guidelines issued by the Election Assistance Commission.

The Election Assistance Commission was established by the Help America Vote in 2002.  The EAC is an independent, bipartisan commission charged with developing guidance to meet HAVA requirements.  The Help America Vote Act was also an instrumental law increasing access to ballot for people with disabilities.  One of the main responsibilities of the EAC is to develop voluntary voting system guidelines.

The Voluntary Voting System Guidelines provide voting manufacturers and State Election Directors with specifications and requirements for voting system functionality, accessibility, and security.

In February, the EAC published new guidelines.

Disability Rights Pennsylvania submitted public comments today and we expressed three main concerns.

First, it appears that the only voting systems capable of meeting the new requirements are marked paper ballots.  If that is the case, paper ballots for people with disabilities is not now, and may never be made accessible.  Fully accessible paper ballot voting systems that are market-ready is not achievable within the foreseeable future.

Second, is the adherence to the concept of “one accessible system per polling place.”  This is a segregates system of voting that doesn’t work and is inherently unequal.  This should no longer be considered a standard, acceptable practice in the U.S.

In our voter hotline experience, separate is not equal.  We have had complaints of poll workers who have not been prepared to operate, activate or describe a segregated voting station.  Separate is not equal.

Finally, many individuals with disabilities vote by mail.  Yet the new guidelines do not address accessible alternatives to vote by mail.  The new guidelines should look at non-traditional voting systems.

#AdvocacyMatters.  To keep elections accessible and secure, we must take the opportunity to comment on the new guidelines by tomorrow and encourage the Election Assistance Commission to do better on the accessibility on our elections.


Explore our website and the links below for more information.


EAC Public Comment Form


About the EAC