Voting is one of our nation’s most fundamental rights and a hallmark of our democracy. On Tuesday June 18th, the Wisconsin Assembly will vote on AB 168, which will help to correct a barrier to voting for some Wisconsin voters with disabilities. Current Wisconsin law requires all voters to speak their name and address to receive a ballot. AB 168 would require accommodation for voters who are unable to speak their name and address. Disability Rights Wisconsin asked policy makers to advance this change because of the concerns DRW heard from some deaf voters and other voters with disabilities and family members related to this requirement.
AB 168 addresses a barrier to voting for some voters with disabilities.
"We request this change is because of the concerns we have heard from some voters with disabilities and family members about the troubling and discriminatory impact of current Wisconsin law requiring voters to say their name and address before receiving a ballot (Section 6.79 (2)(a). Some voters cannot state their name and address due to disability or medical condition; Wisconsin law does not require a disability related accommodation for these voters.
For the November election, DRW received 6+ contacts related to concerns about this requirement for voters who were deaf or had a developmental disability and could not speak their name and address. In these cases, poll workers were initially insistent that voters say their name and address.
In one case, the poll worker told a deaf voter that they would not receive a ballot unless the voter stated both name and address.
In another case, a family member reported that a young man with a developmental disability had difficulty receiving a ballot because he could not speak his address.
It is highly likely that other voters had similar experiences but did not contact DRW. This document includes some of the concerns we have heard from voters with disabilities and their families in their own words. In some cases, we heard that the person with a disability was humiliated and shamed by the treatment experienced at their polling place, as they tried to fulfill their civic duty.
Voting is one of our nation’s most fundamental rights and a hallmark of our democracy. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires state and local governments as public entities to ensure that people with disabilities have a full and equal opportunity to vote. The ADA’s provisions apply to all aspects of voting, including voter registration, site selection, and the casting of ballots, whether on Election Day or during an early voting process. The ADA requires public entities to modify their voting policies, practices, and procedures when such modifications are necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of a voter’s disability. The current statutory requirement in Wisconsin law requiring voters to state their name and address does not address the needed modifications, and in some cases is being implemented in a matter that is discriminatory."
Contact your Assembly Representative and State Senator to ask them to support AB 168/ SB 246 to ensure that people who cannot state their name and address do not experience barriers to voting.