The federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) also protects your right to vote as a person with a disability. HAVA grants money to states to improve voting systems for all voters. HAVA grants money to states specifically to improve voting place and equipment accessibility for people with disabilities. HAVA requires states to establish a procedure to hear complaints and resolve grievances about voting rights violations.
Ohio's statutory laws on elections and voting are found at Ohio Revised Code Title 35. Ohio election procedure in regard to voters with a disability is also governed by a 1984 consent judgment in the case of Glancy v. Morrow County Board of Elections. In that case, a group of voters with disabilities sued a board of elections and the Ohio Secretary of State over voting rights of persons with disabilities. The Secretary of State agreed to certain principles and procedures in regard to voters with disabilities, and is bound to direct all county boards of elections to comply with those principles and procedures.
Voters with disabilities have a right to equal access to their polling location, and to cast a private ballot. If you wish, you may bring a sample ballot into the voting booth with you. If you need help in voting, you may bring a person of your choice into the voting booth to assist you. However, that person may not be a candidate on the ballot, and may not be an agent of your employer or your labor union.
If you need help in voting but have no one to assist you, two poll workers will provide assistance to you in marking your ballot.
A person attempting to vote may not be challenged on the basis of his/her mental capacity. A person may be challenged only on qualifications such as age, residency, and citizenship.
All polling places must be physically accessible to persons with disabilities unless an exemption has been granted by the Secretary of State for good cause. You may contact the county board of elections to confirm that your polling place is accessible.
If your polling location is not accessible, you can require the board of elections to reassign you to an accessible voting location or to provide you another means of casting your ballot on election day. The federal government has published an ADA Checklist for Polling Places to help voting officials understand what makes a polling place accessible.
Thanks to Ohio Legal Rights Service for information in this article and the Clermont County League of Women Voters.