Preparing for the Polls as a Deaf or Hard of Hearing Voter

Posted on March 01, 2024

by Riley Albair

Maine will have presidential primaries on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. Voters will decide on candidates participating in the Democratic and Republican primaries.

Polling places can be tricky places for communication, especially for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. Polls are often set up in school gyms, cafeteria, and other large areas; they are often busy and full of noise and visual distractions. Voters arriving and leaving, poll workers talking, and everyone hustling and bustling around. Of course, voters who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing have the right to request accommodations in order to communicate effectively at the polls. This could include asking a poll worker to write back and forth, or to remove a face mask momentarily to support communication.

Debra Bare-Rogers, Advocate at Disability Rights Maine, shares how she prepares for the polls as a Hard of hearing person:

“One, as soon as I arrive at the polling place, I tell them, ‘I am Hard of Hearing. Please speak slowly.’ Two, I use an app on my Android smartphone called LiveTranscribe. I show it to the person I am speaking to, and I read the captions of what they are saying. For example, when they ask, ‘what is your name?’ Three, I wear my ‘Please face me, I’m hard of hearing!’ button. Four, I bring pen and paper as a back up, in case I need to ask somebody to write something down that I can’t hear or understand.”

She also shares, “I request a corner voting booth if possible. My hope is that it will be away from the noise and other distractions in the area.”

To find the address of your polling place, visit the Maine Voter Information Lookup Service. If you encounter accessibility barriers on Election Day, please contact Disability Rights Maine at 800-452-1948 or email Molly Thompson, Voting Access Advocate (

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