Disability Advocates Push Back Against Proposal to Cut Election Commission

VOTE with an international symbol for accessibility

by Andy Jones
February 14, 2017

A United States House Committee voted February 7 to disband the Election Assistance Admission, one day after the Consortium for Citizens for Disabilities wrote a letter to elected representatives [PDF], urging them to vote against the proposal.

“While a national election just occurred, many state and local elections will be held throughout 2017 and the EAC must continue to do its important work to ensure fairness in our voting systems,” the CCD wrote in the letter, signed by the National Disability Rights Network and four other disability rights organizations. “Rather than abolishing the agency, Congress should strengthen the EAC to ensure that persons with disabilities fully enjoy the right to vote privately and independently,”

Congress created the Election Assistance Admission through the passage of the Help America Votes Act of 2002, the legislature’s response to the many scandals surrounding the 2000 election.

The EAC is the only federal agency tasked withoverseeing technology standards in elections, including technology that makes voting accessible to people with disabilities.

Although the agency lacked a quorum of members from 2010 and 2014, it has been busy the past two years accrediting a new voting test system laboratory and providing guidance on best practices on election administration to jurisdictions nationwide, according to the letter.

“There remains much work to be done not only relating to physical accessibility, but also relating to other barriers to voting, such as a lack of voting and registration materials in accessible formats for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, blind or low vision, or intellectual or other cognitive disabilities,” the CCD letter states. “In some instances, there have been outright denials of the right to register and vote based on false assumptions that many individuals with mental disabilities lack the legal capacity to vote.”

You can see more information on NDRN's voting protection efforts on the NDRN website.

Disability Rights Washington is the designated protection and advocacy agency in Washington and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.