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Voting Rights - Empowering People with Disabilities

October 2012—Senator Kirsten Gillibrand [D-NY] introduced The Voter Empowerment Act of 2012 [S.3608] to the U.S. Senate in September. The primary intent of the bill is to “modernize voter registration, promote access to voting for individuals with disabilities, [and] protect the ability of individuals to exercise the right to vote in elections for Federal office.” Under this bill, States are required to allow individuals with disabilities to register and vote in elections for Federal office by absentee ballot procedures and accept all ballots received no later than 30 days before the election. In accordance with this provision, States are also required to establish a procedure that allows individuals with disabilities to request and receive voter registration and absentee ballot applications by mail or electronically. If S.3608 becomes law in its current form, pilot programs will be conducted in eligible States and funded by the Election Assistance Commission, allowing individuals with disabilities to register and vote using electronic means (to include the Internet and telephones with assistive devices) independently at their residences. In addition, a single office in each State will be responsible for providing information on registering and voting by absentee ballot procedures to individuals with disabilities. The bill is currently being reviewed by the Committee on Rules and Administration.    

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The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under grant number 90RE5007-01-00. The opinions contained in this website are those of the Wireless RERC and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or NIDILRR.