Polling Place Accessibility

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.

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.

Accessibility Statement from the Administrator

Wisconsin election officials are given immense responsibility to ensure that elections are conducted in a fair and impartial manner while maintaining the integrity of the election process.

A key to developing and maintaining public trust is to make the election process accessible and transparent for all participants. This involves working with representative organizations and groups, providing assistance to eliminate physical barriers to the polling place, acquiring voting equipment that enables all citizens to cast an independent and private ballot in a dignified manner and providing information that enables all citizens to fully participate in the election process.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission and its staff seek input from representative groups and organizations regarding how best to assist individuals with disabilities, and to collaborate on voter education projects and receive community feedback.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission welcomes comments and suggestions for helping to eliminate the barriers faced by Wisconsin’s citizens with disabilities. Citizens can reach the Commission toll-free by calling 866-VOTE-WIS (866-868-3947). Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing or have difficulty in speaking may contact the Commission by using the Wisconsin Telecommunications Relay System.

Meagan Wolfe
Interim Administrator
Wisconsin Elections Commission

Curbside Voting

If a voter cannot enter the absentee voting location or polling place due to disability, Wis. Stat. § 6.82(1) requires that curbside voting must be available.  Two poll workers should bring a ballot to the individual needing assistance, and conduct voting at their vehicle, or at the polling place entrance.  These voters are not required to sign the poll list.  Instead, the poll workers should write “exempt by order of inspectors” in the signature space on the poll list.  This incident should also be recorded on the Inspector’s Statement (GAB-104).  

If curbside voters need to update their registration due to an address or name change or if they are not currently a registered voter, they may also register to vote curbside with a current and valid Proof of Residence. Curbside voting should also be available during the in-person absentee voting period. Persons who would like to vote curbside should be encouraged to contact their municipal clerk beforehand to discuss how to initiate the process upon arrival at the voting location.

Accessible Voting Training Video: This is Where We Vote

 The Wisconsin Elections Commission, formerly the Government Accountability Board, partnered with the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition to create a training video for clerks and poll workers focused on accessible voting issues.  The video features voters with disabilities, advocates and local election officials discussing their experiences with polling place accessibility.  This 11 minute video can be used as part of a training program for poll workers in preparation for Election Day.

 Accessible Voting Training Video: This is Where We Vote - 2014

This Is Where We Vote - 2014  on Vimeo.

Polling Place Set-up

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.

Assisting Voters with Disabilities

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) created a requirement that every polling place have accessible voting equipment available for each election.  The State of Wisconsin used funds provided through HAVA to assist municipalities with purchasing accessible voting equipment.  By 2006, every municipality in the state met this requirement and six accessible voting systems are currently in use statewide.

Deciding on a New Polling Place

If a municipality decides to relocate a polling place, the municipal clerk is required to fill out the Polling Place Accessibility Survey (Rev. 2009) and submit that information to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Wis. Stat. 5.25 requires all polling locations to be determined at least 30 days prior to an election so a decision on moving a polling location should be made far enough in advance of an election to meet that standard and address any accessibility-related concerns.