Molly 2024

Disability Voting Rights Week 2023

Posted on September 11, 2023

by Molly Thompson

The week of September 11th to the 15th is Disability Voting Rights Week! As the new Voting Access Advocate at Disability Rights Maine, I’m thrilled to get to work ensuring Mainers with disabilities can exercise their right to vote. The upcoming year is especially exciting, with four state wide elections taking place. People with disabilities in Maine have an excellent opportunity to practice voting before the General Presidential Election on November 5th, 2024.

Voter turnout among individuals with disabilities has steadily increased in recent decades, thanks in part to federal laws. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that individuals with disabilities have, “a full and equal opportunity to vote.” The 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requires all polling places to be physically accessible and to possess at least one functioning Accessible Voting Machine (AVS).

Regarding state protections, it is important to know that individuals under guardianship in Maine have the right to vote. This was established in the critical case of Doe v. Rowe, brought by DRM on behalf of three people under guardianship whose right to vote was previously restricted.

While the voting rights of those with disabilities in Maine are protected under the law, there are still many problems voters encounter. For those who don’t have internet access, it can be hard to learn how to vote. For others, when they find the information they need, it is out of date. Too many polling places in Maine are not fully accessible. DRM has observed polling places across Maine that lack accessible parking, ramps, or automatic entrances on election day. Further, the inconsistent use of AVS machines creates confusion among voters.

DRM will continue to work to eradicate as many of these barriers as possible. We will host trainings and forums to educate people with disabilities on the voting process. We will send advocates to the polls on election days and work with Town/City Clerks to address accessibility problems.

An exciting project in its early stages, is to facilitate individuals with disabilities to become poll workers in their own communities. As one in three adults in Maine have a disability, it is imperative that people with disabilities are visible at the polls. In the work to foster free and fair elections in Maine, the role of people with disabilities must not be overlooked, both as participants and stewards of democracy. For more information on becoming a poll worker in Maine, visit If you would like to partner with DRM for this project, please contact us.

If you are a person with a disability and you want to share your experiences around voting with DRM, please respond to our survey. Your responses will help shape our work and could motivate others to participate in elections.

Happy Disability Voting Rights Week!

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