Curbside Voting and Other Options for People with Disabilities Who Can’t Stand in Line
by Molly Broadway, DRTx Voting Rights Training Specialist
Nearly half a million people in Texas have already cast their ballot in the first two days of early voting. This record-breaking turnout can mean longer wait times. For some Texans with disabilities, standing in line for long periods of time is not an option. If that’s you, please do not let that prevent you from voting. Here are some of the options you have:
If you cannot enter a polling place, or cannot stand for long periods of time, an election officer can bring a ballot to your car at the curbside or to you at the entrance of the polling place. After you mark the ballot, give it to the election officer who will put it in the ballot box. Or, at your request, a companion may hand you a ballot and deposit it for you. This service is available at EVERY polling site during early voting and on Election Day.
It is important to know that you are not required to bring someone with you to alert poll workers of your presence, not required to fill out a form requesting to access curbside voting, and that curbside voting is not a substitute for an accessible polling site.
Per the Americans with Disabilities Act, a curbside voting system must include:
- Signage informing voters of the possibility of voting curbside, the location of the curbside voting, and how a voter is supposed to notify the official that she is waiting curbside
- A location that allows the curbside voter to obtain information from candidates and others campaigning outside the polling place
- A method for the voter with a disability to announce her arrival at the curbside (a temporary doorbell or buzzer system would be sufficient, but not a telephone system requiring the use of a cell phone or a call ahead notification)
- A prompt response from election officials to acknowledge their awareness of the voter
- Timely delivery of the same information that is provided to voters inside the polling place
- A portable voting system that is accessible and allows the voter to cast her ballot privately and independently.
It is a good idea to call ahead if you plan to go alone so the election official will be expecting you. If you can’t drive, think about having a friend or relative drive you to the polling station. Call your county election official and let them know you would like to vote early and your precinct number. The county official will notify the poll workers. You can find your county election official by calling the Secretary of State’s office at 1-800-252-8683, or get information online on their website.
Moving to Front or Sitting While in Line
State law allows the election judge to move people with mobility impairments to the front of the line if they are unable to stand for long periods of time. To access this accommodation, the voter may request to speak with the election judge and request to sit down while in line or sit off to the side of the line while retaining their spot in line.
Please keep in mind that it is solely the decision of the election judge as to whether or not you may be moved to the front of the line.
lf you have other questions about early voting or other disability voting related matters, please contact the Disability Rights Texas Voter Hotline at 1-888-796-VOTE (8683) or go to our voting rights resource page for more information.