There are federal and state laws that protect the rights of voters with disabilities. This toolkit includes resources about voting rights for Wisconsinites with disabilities.
We hope these resources will help you to know your voting rights. Contact the Disability Rights Wisconsin Voter Hotline or the Wisconsin Elections Commission with any questions or to report a complaint.
Know Your Voting Rights: Fact Sheet
As a person with a disability, it is your right to have a full and equal opportunity to register to vote, cast a ballot, and access disability related accommodations. Read the Disability Vote Coalition Voting Rights Fact Sheet to learn more about your voting rights.
- View English Voting Rights fact sheet here (accessible PDF).
- View Spanish Voting Rights fact sheet here (accessible PDF).
Know Your Voting Rights: Video
Our video provides an overview of key voting rights. The video is a product of the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition, in partnership with the Wisconsin Election Commission.
- Know Your Rights Video
- Know Your Rights Video with Captions
- Know Your Rights Video with Audio Captions
- Know Your Rights Video with Spanish Captions
State and Federal Laws that Protect Voting Rights
Federal law and Wisconsin law include many provisions that protect the voting rights of people with disabilities.
- List of Wisconsin Accessibility Provisions (accessible PDF).
- The Americans with Disabilities Act and Other Federal Laws Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities
Accessible Voting Equipment
The Help America Vote Act of 2002 mandates that accessible voting equipment be available at every polling place so that all individuals have the opportunity to vote independently. The Wisconsin Election Commission website provides information about the accessible voting systems approved for use in Wisconsin.
Curbside voting is for people who are unable to enter the polling place due to disability, which includes being immunocompromised or having symptoms of COVID-19. The Wisconsin Election Commission website explains how to access curbside voting.
Guardianship and Voting
In Wisconsin, individuals who have a guardian retain the right to vote unless that right is expressly removed by the court. If an individual has lost the right to vote, they can ask to have the right restored by filing a petition in court and proving they are capable of understanding the purpose of an election. For more information, check out these resources from Disability Rights Wisconsin:
- Guardianship and Voting Brochure: Available in both English and Spanish.
- Guardianship and Voting Resources
- View the DRW Guardianship and Voting Resources page for information on the basic about guardianship and voting, how to keep the right to vote, and how to get the right to vote back if lost in a guardianship case.
- View the DRW Guardianship and Voting Resources for Attorneys page for information on the topic of voting rights of proposed wards and wards for attorneys serving as GALs or advocate counsel in guardianship cases. These materials primarily focus on restoring voting rights that were removed in the initial guardianship proceeding but will also be helpful if arguing that voting rights should not be removed when a guardian of the person is being appointed.
Ballot Return Assistance
Voters with a disability may request assistance with mailing or delivering their ballot from anyone who is not their employer or a representative of their labor union. This right is protected by the Federal Voting Rights Act and was affirmed by a federal court ruling in August of 2022 in the Carey v WEC case. If you are denied the right to assistance, contact the DRW Voter Hotline or the Wisconsin Elections Commission for assistance. Note: Wisconsin voters who do not have a disability cannot have assistance delivering their absentee ballot.
- Learn more about the right to ballot return assistance posted by the Wisconsin Election Commission.
- Absentee Ballot Return Assistance Guidance, Disability Rights Wisconsin (accessible PDF).
Voting Rights for Residents of Care Facilities
Residents of care facilities such as group homes and nursing homes have the same right to vote as any other citizens unless a court has removed that right. Facilities should ensure that residents can exercise their right to vote and can do so without interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal from the facility. In Wisconsin, Special Voting Deputies conduct absentee voting for voters who are occupants of residential care facilities and retirement homes that are required by law or designated by the municipal clerk to be served by Special Voting Deputies (SVDs).
- Absentee Voting in Residential Care Facilities and Retirement Homes (SVD Voting), Wisconsin Elections Commission
- Residential Service Providers fact sheet – WI Disability Vote Coalition (accessible PDF).
- Voting Rights in Long Term Care Communities, Wisconsin Board on Aging and Long Term Care
- Assisting Cognitively Impaired Individuals with Voting: A Quick Guide by the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging and the Penn Center (PDF)
How to Make a Complaint
If you are a voter with a disability who has a complaint regarding your voting experience, you should consider filing a complaint. Filing a complaint ensures that your concern is recorded and can resolved to make voting more accessible in the future. The Disability Rights Wisconsin Voter Hotline can assist you with the complaint process.
There are several options for making a complaint:
- The Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) hears complaints concerning violations of election law. You may submit a formal sworn complaint to the Commission.
- The Wisconsin Elections Commission also offers a quick and simple way to report accessibility concerns such as polling place accessibility, voting equipment concerns, website accessibility, and issues with curbside voting.
Complaints about Violations of Federal Laws
Anyone with a complaint about possible violations of the federal laws that protect voters with disabilities is encouraged to contact the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice. The Civil Rights Division enforces a number of federal laws that protect voters with disabilities.
- To contact the US DOJ Civil Rights Division, call toll-free at 800-253-3931 or send your comments in writing. You may email Voting.Section@usdoj.gov or send your comments in the mail.
- Learn more about how to contact the Voting Section in the Civil Rights Division.
Help with Voting Questions
- Your Municipal Clerk: Look up your local municipal clerk via My Vote Wisconsin.
- Wisconsin Elections Commission
- Phone Number: 866-VOTE-WIS / 866-868-3947 toll free (staffed Monday to Friday from 7:45am to 4:30pm; and longer hours on Election Day).
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: elections.wi.gov
- Disability Rights Wisconsin Voter Hotline
- Phone Number: 844-347-8683 / 844-DIS-VOTE
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles Voter ID Hotline
- Phone Number: (844) 588-1069
- Apply for a free Photo ID for voting at the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition Policy Recommendations
While federal and state law includes many provisions that address the accessibility of our elections, some voters with disabilities continue to experience barriers to registering to vote and casting a ballot. The Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition supports the following recommendations to increase the accessibility of Wisconsin elections and provide equitable access for voters with disabilities.
- View the WDVC’s Policy Recommendations here [updated January 2023] (accessible PDF).
- Accessible Absentee Voting Position Paper – Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired