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Disability Rights of West Virginia

Voting Rights for People
with Disabilities

Article by Zachary Kelley, DRWV Advocate

A Brief History: 

There are approximately 61 million people living with disabilities in the United States. That equates to 26% of the total population or one in four people. Studies have shown that people with disabilities historically have lower voter turnout than the general public. There are many factors, such as physical barriers that prevent people with disabilities from voting. The Help America Vote Act or HAVA was passed in 2002 to help overcome these barriers. HAVA allows organizations like Disability Rights of West Virginia to assist individuals with disabilities in full participating in the electoral process. This assistance is implemented through the Protection and Advocacy for Voting Access or PAVA program at Disability Rights of West Virginia.

Voting Rights:

As a person with a disability, you have the right to:

  • Have full access to your public polling site;

  • Cast your ballot in private;

  • Have someone of your choosing assist you in the voting booth; and

Every polling place must:

  • Have at least one voting device that allows voters, regardless of disability, to cast their ballot privately and independently; and

  • Be physically accessible in a manner that is compliant with the American Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines.

American Disabilities Act

The Americans Disability Act was signed into law by President Bush on July 26, 1990. This was the world’s first comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities.  The ADA requires polling sites across the United States to be physically accessible.

Every polling place must:

  • Have at least one accessible route to connect accessible buildings, accessible facilities, accessible elements, and accessible spaces that are on the same site;

  • Have a ramp with a running slope that is not steeper than 8.3%;

  • Possess door hardware that is operable with one hand and does not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist; and

  • Display parking space identification signs and include the International Symbol of Accessibility. The signs identifying van parking spaces shall contain the designation “van accessible.” Signage shall be 60 inches minimum above the finish floor or ground surface measured to the bottom of the sign.


Check out the full list of ADA Accessibility Standards at:

Contact Disability Rights of West Virginia (DRWV) if:

  • You need assistance when registering to vote.

  • You have questions about voter rights.

  • You have encountered harassment or discrimination by an election official.

  • Your polling place is not accessible.

  • You have not been provided with the opportunity to vote in an accessible format.

Client Comments

Why we do what we do

The advocate at DRWV was extremely helpful and knowledgeable during this overwhelming and stressful situation.  She answered my questions and concerns and put my mind at ease.  I appreciate the advice and support we received for our daughter’s care, which she deserves.  Thank you.

The advocate was very helpful. I could not have been more satisfied.  She is amazing.  Thank you.

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