Although the gap in participation between voters with and without disabilities
has narrowed, people with disabilities are still less likely to vote than people
without disabilities. In particular, individuals with a cognitive difficulty, a
self-care difficulty, or an independent-living difficulty, vote at significantly
lower rates than individuals with no disability. These individuals may have
trouble leaving their homes or navigating crowded, noisy environments, so
efforts designed to make voting machines and polling places physically more
accessible may not address their primary needs.
Some states have made changes to election processes to make them more
convenient for everyone, such as allowing “no-excuse” absentee voting (i.e.,
any voter can vote absentee) and creating a permanent absentee voting list
(i.e., voters can sign up to receive automatically an absentee ballot for all future
elections). While people with disabilities are more likely to vote in states that
have made these changes, these reforms have not been adopted everywhere.