The Justice Department announced has issued guidance under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on how to ensure that ballot drop boxes are accessible to voters with disabilities. The publication, “Ballot Drop Box Accessibility, the Americans with Disabilities Act,” is intended to help election officials understand the ADA’s requirements, including the physical accessibility standards applicable to ballot drop boxes, and for voters with disabilities to understand their rights under federal law.
“The right to vote is the fundamental right upon which our democracy is built,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “For too long in our history, many voters with disabilities have faced barriers in exercising their voting rights. Many of these barriers continue even today, including physical barriers that prevent them from entering polling places or accessing a ballot drop box. The ADA requires election officials to select and provide accessible ballot drop box locations so that voters with disabilities can have the same voting opportunities as other voters. The Justice Department is fully committed to vigorous enforcement of the ADA to ensure that voters with disabilities no longer face discrimination in the election process.”
The publication covers the elements and features of a ballot drop box that election officials should consider meeting the ADA’s accessibility requirements. The publication discusses the requirements for an accessible route to a ballot drop box, such as a level walkway without gaps and steps. It also discusses accessibility features of a ballot drop box such as a handle or lever that can be operated with one hand and without tight grasping, pinching or twisting of the wrist. The guidance includes a checklist of the accessibility standards used to assess a ballot drop box.
The ballot drop box guidance is intended to be used together with the department’s “ADA Checklist for Polling Places,” a guidance document that discusses local governments’ obligations under the ADA to provide polling places that are physically accessible to voters with disabilities. The ADA Checklist for Polling Places covers the accessibility requirements for features that may be present at a ballot drop box location, such as parking, passenger drop off areas and building entrances.