State and local election officials should adopt the use of online voter registration and no-excuse absentee voting to improve the accessibility of elections for disabled individuals.
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.