Welcome to the ASL Voter Assistance Hotline!
It is very important that you vote and we know that voting information can be confusing and unclear. The hotline can provide resources on the voting process. You can ask questions and get answers — in ASL! Volunteers will be standing by to answer any questions you have about voting. We encourage you to vote, you can use our hotline to get more information if needed! If you care about your rights and want to support/be against certain issues, make an impact by voting for candidates who will support your positions/issues.
Bottom line: register to vote and participate in the next election.
You can also click on your state below to learn more information (from RocktheVote). Please make sure to confirm the information with your state department of motor vehicles (usually provided online). The NAD shares this information to encourage people to vote, and does not promote any political party.
- Am I registered to vote?
You can check with your state election officials online. You can also check your status as a registered voter by checking the nonpartisan website. Use the dropdown menu to select the state where you’re registered to vote. Once you enter the relevant information, it will tell you whether your registration status is active.
- How do I register to vote? I have limited transportation – do I have to go in person?
You can register to vote online at vote.gov. The website will inform you if your state allows you to register online and you can start your online registration on that same site. If your state does not permit online registration, the website will let you know what the other options are and how to do it.
- I voted in the last election and can I still vote again this year?
Yes. You become an inactive voter if you have not voted in two consecutive federal elections and have not returned the post cards from election officials requesting that you verify your address. You can double check your status as an active voter by checking the nonpartisan website. Click the “voter registration” icon on the home page. Use the dropdown menu to select the state where you’re registered to vote. Once you enter the relevant information, it will tell you whether your registration status is “active” or “inactive.”
- I voted in a different state at the last election, is it okay to register in a different state for this year?
If you moved to a different state, you’ll need to re-register in your new state. See question 2 regarding how to register.
- Where do I go to vote?
You can find your polling place by entering your address on your state’s voter lookup page. You can also find your polling place by checking the nonpartisan website. Click the “find your polling place” icon on the home page then use the dropdown menu to select the state where you’re registered to vote. Once you enter your address, it will tell you your designated polling place. You can’t just go to any polling place, you must go to where you are assigned.
- Do I need to show ID?
ID requirements vary from state to state. You can find out your state’s requirements by checking the nonpartisan website CanIVote.org. Click the “valid forms of ID” icon on the home page then use the dropdown menu to select the state where you’re registered to vote. However, it’s a good idea to bring your ID just in case.
- What is an absentee ballot for?
An absentee ballot is a vote cast by someone who is unable to attend the official polling place in person. If you need to request an absentee ballot, the procedures vary from state to state. You can find out your state’s requirements by checking the nonpartisan website.
- I’ve never voted before, how do I vote?
First, before anything, you must register to vote by your state’s deadline. You can check your state’s registration deadline. See Question 2 for how to register to vote.
Second, when you arrive at the polling place on Election Day, you will wait in line then be directed to a table where volunteers will ask for your name. They will cross your name off a list and give you your ballot. You will then go to a voting booth to cast your vote. There will be instructions, on the paper ballot or on the voting machine. Once you are done, you will get a sticker saying “I Voted!”
- I can’t miss work to vote, what do I do?
Your right to vote during work time depends on what your state law says since it varies from state to state. You can find out what the law is in your state here: www.workplacefairness.org/voting-rights-time-off-work, scroll down the page, and click your state on the map provided. You might also be eligible for an absentee ballot – check to find out what the requirements are in your state. You can also take advantage of early voting if your state offers it.
- Do all polling places have interpreters?
The Department of Justice (DOJ) guidelines for Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) state that “to ensure that voters with disabilities can fully participate in the election process, officials must provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services at each stage of the process, from registering to vote to casting a ballot” and “officials must give primary consideration to the request of the voter.”For instance, this includes visual instructions at the polling place. Or a person who uses ASL and is not able to access the written English questions on the ballot may request a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) for assistance. You must request auxiliary aids and services in advance by contacting your state election officials. You can search for the officials’ contact information, click “election official directory” and select your state/county. From there, you will find the phone number and email to request services.
- I am living in a state that is different from my current driver’s license (i.e. college student), should I register to vote in this state or where my driver’s license is?
You can submit an absentee ballot if you are still registered in your home state but attending college out of state (see questions 7 and 8). Or you can change your voter registration to your college’s location. You can pick one or the other but you cannot be registered in both locations.
U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section, The Americans with Disabilities Act and Other Federal Laws Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities (Sept. 2014), at 1.
- ASL Voter Guide (New York City only)
- Election Protection
- Spread The Vote (VA, GA, TN, FL, TX only)
- RevUp Campaign
- Register and Vote in your State
>> The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) improves the administration of elections in the U.S. by:
- creating a federal agency, the Election Assistance Commission, to serve as a clearinghouse for election administration information;
- providing funds to states to improve election administration and replace outdated voting systems; and
- creating minimum standards for states to follow in several key areas of election administration.
The NAD continues to educate elected officials on the unique needs and contributions of and ways to advance the American deaf and hard of hearing community. The NAD also continues to educate deaf and hard of hearing voters on their rights and responsibilities; for instance, we have an ASL Voter Hotline.
As a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the NAD cannot engage in partisan activities; we cannot favor one party over the other. We focus on educating and informing both parties on the civil, human, and linguistic rights of their deaf and hard of hearing constituents.
>> Make Polls Accessible
Under the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-252, 42 U.S.C. §§ 15301-15545), state and local government are required to make polling places accessible to people with disabilities. This includes training election officials, poll workers, and election volunteers on best practices for accessibility during elections, (42 U.S.C. § 15421(b)(2)).
Deaf and hard of hearing voters want access to the same information provided to other voters. With about 48 million Americans experiencing some degree of hearing loss, poll workers should assume that some of the voters coming to the polls are deaf or hard of hearing. Therefore, poll workers should ensure that all auditory information is presented in a visual format. Some examples poll workers can do:
Voting instructions. Before voters vote, the poll worker may ask voters to confirm their address, sign their name, etc. Common statements and questions should be printed in advance and placed at the poll locations, ASL videos of these common statements and questions are recommended. Examples of common statements and questions:
- “Show your driver’s license or other photo identification.”
- “Is your address correct?”
- “Sign the registration list/card(s).”
- “Take the voting card to the person standing near the voting machines.”
- “Directions for how to use the voting machine are in the voting booth.”
- “Do you have any questions?”
Announcements. Poll workers sometimes make announcements, such as directing voters to stand in a particular line, announcing the time the polls will be closing, or providing other information. Every time verbal announcements are made, the poll worker should provide the same information visually and also through tactile means. This could be accomplished by writing the information in large letters on easels placed in appropriate locations or on LED signage if available. Braille versions should also be provided for DeafBlind voters.
Service animals. Some deaf or hard of hearing voters have a service animal (also known as a “hearing dog”). Under federal anti-discrimination laws, polling places must permit these service animals to accompany the deaf or hard of hearing voter, (28 C.F.R. § 35.130(b)(7)).
Deaf and hard of hearing poll workers. Polling places located in areas with a large deaf population should recruit and train deaf and hard of hearing poll workers and let the deaf and hard of hearing community know they will be present to assist.
Sign language interpreters. Polling places located in areas with a large deaf population should make qualified sign language interpreters available and share this information with the deaf and hard of hearing community. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, qualified interpreters are those who are “able to interpret effectively, accurately and impartially both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary.” (28 C.F.R. § 36.104). In other words, someone who “knows a little or some sign” is not qualified.
Training for poll workers. Poll workers should be trained in simple steps they can take to help communicate effectively with deaf and hard of hearing people. Poll workers should be trained to:
- Make eye contact and wait until the person can see you before speaking.
- If there’s no eye contact, you may want to try to tap the person’s shoulder or arm to get their attention.
- Maintain eye contact with the person while speaking.
- Speak clearly at a normal pace.
- Make sure your face and mouth are visible.
- There should be good lighting to ensure that your face and mouth are well lit.
- Use gestures. For example, point to the area of the room or line where the deaf or hard of hearing voter needs to go or point to any printed information that they may need to see or read.
- Repeat and rephrase your question or statement, if they ask.
- Use paper and pen when necessary.
Go to the National Disability Rights Network’s Protection and Advocacy for Voting Access for more information.
>> Be Prepared to Vote
Voting is a big responsibility. Don’t wait until election day to decide how to vote. During elections, the ballots may include voting on several issues. You may be asked to vote for representatives at different levels of government:
- local level, such as a mayor or member of the city council;
- state level, such as members of the state legislature or governor; or
- federal level, such as members of Congress and the President of the United States.
You also may be asked to vote on a state or local initiative or project, such as funding for schools or a change in a law.
It is important that you plan your vote ahead of time. Information about the candidates and initiatives may not be available at the voting place on Election Day. Find out before you vote which candidates are running for office and what their positions are. You should know what initiatives or questions are on the ballot. Sources of information about candidates and issues could include local and national newspapers, the Internet, television news, and information programs, and advocacy organizations (although some advocacy organizations, like the NAD, are not allowed to support a particular candidate).
Organizations or government offices in your community may hold meetings or forums on the candidates or issues. In most cases, the organization hosting the meeting is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to make its meetings accessible to people with disabilities, including deaf and hard of hearing people. You can ask for accommodations such as a sign language interpreter, communication access realtime translation (CART), an assistive listening device, or other auxiliary aid or service that is effective for you.
Before the election, registered voters may receive a sample ballot in the mail. Take some time to look at the sample ballot — see which candidates are running for office and whether there are any issues or questions you will vote on. Often, the questions are written in legal vocabulary and may be confusing. It is important to obtain information from other sources, such as the sources mentioned above. You can also use our ASL Voter Hotline. Keep in mind that no matter where you get your information, you should determine how you will vote on your own. Make sure you know where to go on voting day and use the resources provided in the ASL Voter Hotline to find out about registration deadlines, voting locations, absentee ballots, and more.