Every Wisconsin voter has a right to cast a ballot privately and independently at their polling place on Election Day. In addition, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requires that every polling place in the State of Wisconsin meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility standards. Local election officials have a responsibility to guarantee that each of their polling places meets these standards and that all voters are provided with an equal opportunity to cast a ballot.
Polling places should be organized so that all voters can be processed efficiently and voters with disabilities can navigate the voting area and participate in the electoral process without assistance. The Polling Place Set-Up guide provides an overview of the accessibility standards that every polling place must meet.
It is important to note that polling place accessibility begins in the parking area and applies to any pathway or obstacle that a voter with a disability would have to navigate to gain access to the voting area. The voting area should be configured to allow passage throughout the space for a voter in a wheelchair and accessible voting booths and machines should both meet ADA standards and be positioned to ensure voter privacy.
Municipal clerks should use this guide to train their election inspectors before an election cycle on the guidelines for proper polling place organization. If an accessibility-related problem is identified on Election Day, the Quick Fix Guide can be used to create a sufficient temporary solution until the issue can be resolved permanently.
The WEC conducts audits of polling places around the state for each election and works with municipalities to correct identified problems and improve accessibility. The results of those audits are reported to each municipality and a Plan of Action is required from the municipal clerk to address any concerns found during the audit. Municipal clerks are then able to request accessibility-related supplies from the WEC to assist them with bringing their polling places into compliance.
The information gathered during polling place audits is analyzed and used to improve and update clerk and poll worker training materials and voter outreach information. This data is also used to inform the Wisconsin State Legislature about the barriers that citizens with disabilities face when voting.