The National Federation of the Blind works to provide information and resources regarding accessible voting. Ensuring full access to nonvisual election technology is a vital element of our mission.
Ballot Marking Device Videos
The National Federation of the Blind has conducted a survey of blind and low-vision voters following every presidential election since 2008, as well as the 2014 and 2018 midterm elections. These surveys indicate that as many as one-third of all poll workers do not know how to operate the accessible ballot marking device (BMD), and that some blind and low-vision voters are not familiar with BMD accessibility features. The result of this lack of knowledge is that too many blind and low-vision voters end up voting with assistance rather than privately and independently using the BMD. To help address this knowledge gap, the National Federation of the Blind has produced videos that demonstrate the accessibility features and how to mark a ballot with four of the most commonly used BMDs. These videos are videos are now available for poll worker training and voter education.
The Clear Ballot Clear Access
Dominion voting ImageCast X
Hart InterCivic Verity
Watch our video, “Call for Blind Americans to Vote in 2020 Election.” Listen to "My Vote" — an original parody inspired by the song "My Shot" from the musical Hamilton, composed and performed by NFB member Precious Perez.
NFB National Center for Nonvisual Election Technology
The National Center for Nonvisual Election Technology, located at our national headquarters in Baltimore, shares best practices about blind voters' needs, and houses accessible voting machines available for demonstration and evaluation at no cost. The center has also published the Nonvisual Election Technology Training Curriculum which provides:
- Information on the importance of voting
- Guidance on voter registration drives
- Past blind voter survey results
- Information on training poll workers
- Guidance on purchasing accessible voting machines
COVID-19 and Legal Action
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that all blind voters have the option to vote safely and independently from home through the use of absentee or mail-in ballots. For too long, election officials in most states have ignored their legal obligation to make absentee and mail-in ballots accessible to the blind.
I first exercised my right to a secret ballot in my forties after we passed the Help America Vote Act. I don’t cry easily, but I cried. Before that time, I had to tell both a Republican judge and a Democratic judge who I was voting for in order to vote. No one should have to disclose their vote or have to rely on someone else to accurately mark their ballot. If I vote by mail in November as it stands now in my state, I must vote in person to vote privately and independently. We should not be forced to choose between a fundamental right to vote and our health.
In 2020, the NFB filed suit in both Texas and Virginia seeking court orders requiring those states to make needed changes to their voting procedures. Litigation is also ongoing in Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania. These actions are a part of a comprehensive legal and advocacy strategy to ultimately secure the right of blind voters everywhere to participate fully and equally in all aspects of federal, state, and local elections. For updates on our legal efforts, please visit our press room.
The Help America Vote Act, signed into law October 29, 2002, was enacted as a response to the problems that occurred during the presidential election of 2000. HAVA requires that at least one accessible voting machine be available in all polling places for federal elections. As established by Resolution 2020-23 adopted at our 2020 National Convention, the NFB is currently demanding that Congress:
- Amend HAVA to require that there be at least one accessible ballot-marking system in each polling place for all local and state elections in addition to all federal elections.
- Amend HAVA to include vote-by-mail and absentee voting and to require that an accessible electronic ballot-delivery system be available to voters with disabilities for all local, state, and federal elections.
- Amend HAVA to provide the authority and funding to the Election Assistance Commission necessary to develop and implement federal guidelines to ensure the accessibility, usability, and security of electronic ballot-delivery systems, and to develop a certification program to certify systems that meet these guidelines.
- Provide funding to the EAC for grants to develop technology that will enable electronically delivered ballots to be returned electronically in a secure manner, that will enable blind voters independently to verify their printed ballots, and to develop technology that will tabulate ballots printed from home or office printers in a manner that preserves the secrecy of the ballot.
Election Information Available on NFB-NEWSLINE®
The NFB has developed a section on NFB-NEWSLINE for election 2020 materials which is available to all subscribers, including subscribers who reside in non-sponsored states. The section includes “Candidate 2020 Searches," a collection of several searches for “Biden” and “Trump” which scan the top hundred newspapers, breaking news, international newspapers, and magazines, in addition to information collected from the websites of each candidate. It also includes the "States Voting Guide 2020" which lists voting procedures and deadlines by state. Please visit our NFB-NEWSLINE page for more information.
Voting Resources by State
Find important details and deadlines to vote in your state. If you have questions about your state’s voting requirements, please contact your NFB state affiliate.
- Alabama: sos.alabama.gov/alabama-votes
- Alaska: elections.alaska.gov
- Arizona: azsos.gov/elections
- Arkansas: sos.arkansas.gov/elections
- California: sos.ca.gov/elections
- Colorado: sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections
- Connecticut: portal.ct.gov/sots
- Delaware: elections.delaware.gov/index.shtml
- District of Columbia: dcboe.org
- Florida: dos.myflorida.com/elections
- Georgia: sos.ga.gov/index.php/elections
- Hawaii: elections.hawaii.gov
- Idaho: idahovotes.gov
- Illinois: elections.il.gov
- Indiana: in.gov/sos/elections
- Iowa: sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/pollingplace/search.aspx
- Kansas: sos.ks.gov/elections/elections.html
- Kentucky: elect.ky.gov/Pages/default.aspx
- Louisiana: sos.la.gov/ElectionsAndVoting/Pages/default.aspx
- Maine: maine.gov/sos/cec/elec
- Maryland: elections.maryland.gov
- Massachusetts: sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleidx.htm
- Michigan: michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-1633-49313--,00.html
- Minnesota: sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting
- Mississippi: sos.ms.gov/Elections-Voting/Pages/default.aspx
- Missouri: s1.sos.mo.gov/elections
- Montana: sosmt.gov/elections
- Nebraska: sos.nebraska.gov
- Nevada: nvsos.gov/sos/elections
- New Hampshire: sos.nh.gov/Elections.aspx
- New Jersey: state.nj.us/state/elections/index.shtml
- New Mexico: sos.state.nm.us
- New York: elections.ny.gov
- North Carolina: ncsbe.gov/ncsbe
- North Dakota: vote.nd.gov
- Ohio: sos.state.oh.us/elections
- Oklahoma: ok.gov/elections
- Oregon: sos.oregon.gov/voting-elections/Pages/default.aspx
- Pennsylvania: votespa.com/Pages/default.aspx
- Puerto Rico: ceepur.org/Home/Index?aspxerrorpath=/es-pr/Paginas/default.aspx
- Rhode Island: elections.ri.gov
- South Carolina: scvotes.gov
- South Dakota: sdsos.gov/elections-voting
- Tennessee: sos.tn.gov/elections
- Texas: sos.state.tx.us/elections/index.shtml
- Utah: elections.utah.gov
- Vermont: sos.vermont.gov/elections
- Virginia: elections.virginia.gov
- Washington: sos.wa.gov/elections
- West Virginia: sos.wv.gov/elections/Pages/default.aspx
- Wisconsin: elections.wi.gov/elections-voting
- Wyoming: sos.wyo.gov/elections
We are collecting stories about the personal experiences of blind voters for potential sharing with media, policymakers, and the public. These stories will help personalize and illustrate the need for improvements in the accessibility of federal, state, and local elections. Send your story to [email protected]. You can also call 410-659-9314, extension 8683 (which spells out VOTE on your telephone keypad), and leave us a voicemail. Include your name, where you live, and how we can contact you if we need to follow up.
If you have questions or concerns regarding voting in your state, please connect with your affiliate president or your local board of elections (see Voting Resources by State listed above). Please consider making a donation to help the NFB continue this important work.