Voting for Persons with Disabilities
Working to ensure equal access for all voters
The Elections Department of the City of New Bedford is committed to:
- Surveying every New Bedford polling place to ensure polling places are accessible by meeting state regulations.
- Working with and helping train Election Day workers on sensitivity to all voters as well as the proper procedures and testing to ensure the polling location is accessible and the accessible voting equipment is made available to all voters.
- Working with outreach organizations to ensure voters are familiar with the accessible voting equipment and availability of such equipment at every polling location.
Accessible Polling Places
All polling locations in Massachusetts are required to be accessible. All polling places must provide access on a permanent or temporary basis on Election Day. Voting assistance and absentee voting offer options that persons with disabilities may use to vote, but are not considered substitutes actual accessibility to the voting location. Accessible voting provides the same opportunity for access and participation to persons with disabilities as for other voters.
Accessible Voting Procedures
A voter can choose someone to assist entering the polling location, checking in, entering the voting booth, preparing the ballot, exiting the booth and checking out.
Voting via mail-in absentee ballot at home is another option used by elderly and disabled voters. For more information regarding absentee voting you may contact the Elections Office.
Accessible Voting Equipment
Both federal law and state requirements mandate that voting systems be equipped for voters with disabilities allowing such voters to have the same opportunity to vote privately and independently. It is required that every precinct must have at least one accessible voting machine available.
There is at least one accessible marking unit in every polling place in Massachusetts. The AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminals are marking devices that use audio cue capacity for visually impaired voters. The AutoMark also has a feature that will greatly magnify the ballot or display the ballot high-contrast for voters that have limited visual impairment. The AutoMark can also produce an oral report to the voter as the choices selected prior to the voter printing the ballot.