Frequently Asked Questions for the  Americans with Disabilities Voting Rights Act

What is a ballot marking device?

A ballot marking device is a machine that is nonvisually accessible which blind voters can use to fill out their ballot privately and independently.

Why can’t blind voters use ballot marking devices and sighted voters use paper ballots?

Frequently, ballot marking devices produce ballots of different size, shape, texture, or all of the above, when compared to standard paper ballots. This creates a situation in which the ballots of blind voters are easily distinguishable from sighted voters, thereby eliminating the blind voter’s right to a secret vote. 

Can anyone use a ballot marking device?

Yes. Ballot marking devices can be used by all voters. 

Do any states currently use electronic ballot delivery?

Yes. In the 2020 election, twenty-six states and the District of Columbia used electronic ballot delivery. 

Do any states currently use electronic ballot return?

Yes. In the 2020 election, four states used electronic ballot return. In addition, overseas voters have been using electronic ballot return since 2008.

What is the difference between “electronic ballot delivery” and “electronic ballot return?”

Electronic ballot delivery refers to the electronic transmittal of the ballot from the state election board to the voter. Electronic ballot return refers to the return transmittal of that ballot from the voter to the state election board.

Should the primary in-person voting method be a ballot marking device or a paper ballot?

The primary in-person voting method should be a ballot marking device with a paper ballot only available upon request.

Will providing enough ballot marking devices to ensure they are the primary voting method be too expensive?

Ensuring that all American citizens have the same right to a private, secret, and independent vote is the foundation for our democracy and in that regard, is priceless. 

Why is there a need for in person voting if electronic ballot delivery and return is offered?

In person voting is needed for blind voters who do not have access to a personal computer or the internet. 

Why can't a spouse or a close friend fill out the paper ballot for the blind voter?

Having a spouse or close friend complete a blind voter’s ballot requires the blind voter to sacrifice the privacy of their vote. In addition, it also does not secure the vote as the blind voter will not know their vote was cast properly.

Where can I learn more about this legislation?

For more information, please contact Jeff Kaloc, government affairs specialist at the National Federation of the Blind, by email at [email protected] or by phone at 410-659-9314, extension 2206.