Curbside Voting Provides a Promising Future for Virginians with Disabilities

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The disAbility Law Center of Virginia’s annual survey on poll accessibility finds that curbside voting causes minimal obstacles and increases access to polls for Virginians with disabilities.

Richmond, VA – In an annual report to the State Board of Elections, the disAbility Law Center of Virginia found that only 15% of surveyed poll workers thought that curbside voting created any additional work for them on election day.  Curbside voting is a method of in-person voting where a ballot is brought outside of the polling place to the voter’s car. This method of voting is especially helpful for people with disabilities who want to vote in-person at their polling place, but have difficulty in walking to the polls. The surveys of over 500 polling locations on Election Day in 2023 found that most poll workers did not find curbside voting difficult to assist.

However, the survey found that some locations did lack helpful directions for curbside voting. These locations included Amelia County, Essex County, and Halifax County, where less than 50% of surveyed locations had signs to explain how to use curbside voting. Clear and appropriate signs are crucial to ensure that voters with disabilities have equal access.

“Virginia has made great improvements so that election day can be accessible to all,” noted Colleen Miller, Executive Director of the disAbility Law Center of Virginia, “but it seems as though some counties want to keep that access a secret!”

Inadequate signage was not only an issue with curbside voting; it was also an alarming problem with other information that is critical to provide access. 43% of polling places surveyed did not have signs informing voters of their right to ask for assistance in marking their ballots. On the few sites that did provide this information, only 27% directed voters to the correct form needed.

Other issues discovered in the disAbility Law Center of Virginia’s annual survey include a lack of:

  • Accessible parking spaces in some places
  • Accessible entrances
  • A smooth and clear path of travel to the entrance
  • Accessible doors
  • Audio ballot equipment
  • Competent operation of accessible machines

“Full access to the voting booth is an issue that must be addressed immediately,” said Miller, “With clear and understandable signs, curbside voting provides a solution that is both simple and effective.”

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia notes that funds have been allocated in the state budget to expand curbside voting, and notes as well that the Virginia Department of Elections (ELECT) has committed to increasing materials on voter access.