- People with disabilities have the right to register to vote so long as they are eligible, which means they are:
- Citizens of the United States;
- Are at least 17 years and 10 months old at time of registration (but to vote, they must be 18 years of age by Election Day);
- Have not been finally convicted of a felony, or if they have been convicted, have completed all of their punishment, including any term of incarceration, parole, supervision, probation, or have received a pardon;
- Have not been determined by a final judgment of a court exercising probate jurisdiction to be totally mentally incapacitated or partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote.
- Individuals who have legal guardians may be eligible to register, depending on whether the court took away their right to vote. All guardianship orders issued after September 1, 2007 must state whether the individual can vote.
- People with disabilities can receive assistance registering to vote from any state agency that provides services to persons with disabilities or from any person they choose.
Accessible Voting Systems
- On September 1, 1999, Texas became the first state to require that all new voting systems be accessible to voters with disabilities and provide a practical and effective means for voters with disabilities to cast a secret ballot.
- In every federal election, and most nonfederal elections, every polling place in Texas must now provide at least one voting machine that offers headphones or other assistance to allow many voters with disabilities to vote privately and independently. In certain nonfederal elections held in counties with a population of less than 20,000, accessible machines may not be available at every polling place. To determine if accessible machines will be available or to request an accommodation, contact the early voting clerk of the county or political subdivision holding the election at least 21 days before the election.
All Polling Places in Texas Must be Accessible
Texas requires all polling places to be accessible to people with disabilities. That means:
- Voting areas must be on the ground floor or accessible by elevator.
- If parking is offered to voters, at least one van-accessible parking spot must be provided.
- There must be a fully accessible path from the parking lot, through the entrance, to the voting area, and to the exit.
- If there are stairs, a ramp must be provided.
Voters May Receive Assistance at the Polls
You are entitled to receive assistance if you:
- Cannot read or write; or
- Have a physical disability that prevents you from reading or marking the ballot.
Tell the election official if you need help to vote. You do not have to provide proof of your disability.
You may be assisted by:
- Any person of your choice who is not an election worker;
- Two election workers on Election Day; or
- One election worker during early voting.
You may NOT be assisted by:
- Your employer;
- An agent of your employer; or
- An officer or agent of your union.
The person assisting you must read you the entire ballot, unless you ask to have only parts of the ballot read. The person assisting you must take an oath that he or she will not try to influence your vote and will mark your ballot as you direct. If you choose to be assisted by polling place officials, poll watchers and election inspectors may observe the voting process, but if you ask to be assisted by a person you choose, no one else may watch you vote.
It is illegal for a person assisting you to:
- Try to influence your vote;
- Mark your ballot in a way other than the way you have asked; or
- Tell anyone how you voted.
Voters May Use Interpreters at the Polls
If you cannot speak English, or if you communicate only with sign language, you may use an interpreter to help you communicate with election officials. You may select any registered voter of your county to be your interpreter. If you cannot read the languages on the ballot, your interpreter may also assist you by translating the language on the ballot for you in the voting booth. (See assistance section above for more details.) If you are deaf and do not have a sign language interpreter who can accompany you to communicate with the poll worker or read the ballot, contact your local election officials before the election and request assistance.
If you are physically unable to enter the polling place, you may ask that an election officer bring a ballot to you at the entrance of the polling place or to a car at curbside. After you mark the ballot, give it to the election officer who will put it in the ballot box. Or, at your request, a companion may hand you a ballot and deposit it for you. TIP: If you plan to go alone to vote curbside, it is wise to call ahead so election officials will expect you. Generally speaking, you may vote curbside during the early voting period (the 17th day before Election Day until the 4th day before Election Day) or on Election Day. For a May uniform election date or resulting November election, the early voting period is the 12th day before Election Day until the 4th day before Election Day.
Voters May Vote Early, Either in Person or by Mail
You may vote during the early voting period at any early voting site in the political subdivision holding the election. Alternatively, if you will be 65 years of age or older on Election Day, have a disability, or will be outside the county during early voting hours and on Election Day, you may apply to vote by mail. Simply submit a completed and signed application for a ballot by mail any time from the 60th to the 7th day before Election Day to the proper early voting clerk; please note that in some cases the deadline moves to the preceding 8th day if the 7th day falls on a weekend or holiday. Additionally, applications for a ballot by mail may be submitted in person at the main early voting polling place, as long as early voting by personal appearance is NOT taking place. For further information on voting early in person or by mail, including information on assistance in requesting, marking, or mailing a ballot by mail, please read our pamphlet titled "Early Voting in Texas."
For more information, contact:
The Secretary of State's office, your County Clerk, County Elections Administrator or the Voter Registrar in your county.
Secretary of State
P.O. Box 12060
Austin, Texas 78711-2060
512.463.5650 or 1.800.252.VOTE (8683)
Fax 512.475.2811, TTY 7.1.1
County Election Officials
For a list of county election officials, see the Secretary of State’s website
Voting Rights Project for Voters with Disabilities
7800 Shoal Creek Blvd., Suite 171-E
Austin, TX 78757-1024
1-888-796-VOTE (8683) (V/TTY)
Published by the Elections Division of the Secretary of State's office. This pamphlet is available in Spanish, large print, audiotape, or computer disc upon request.
(Este folleto está disponible en Español, tipo de imprenta más grande, cinta magnética para audio, o disco para computadora. Para conseguir una de estas versiones por favor llame sin cargo a la oficina del Secretario de Estado al 1.800.252.VOTE (8683)).