Websites that Welcome Voters
Voting is the single most important tool U.S. Citizens have to participate politically and advocate their interests. Unfortunately, many people with disabilities face barriers to voting. As a result, there is a disproportionately low turnout of Americans with disabilities in elections.
It is essential to have access to voter information in order to exercise the right to vote. Fortunately, we live in an age of technology where people with and without disabilities have access to more information than ever before. Websites allow voters to learn about rules and regulations of their state and county’s elections processes, and in the state of Washington, register to vote, access the voter’s pamphlet and video voter guide, and locate the nearest ballot drop box or elections office. Websites also provide contact information for election officials in their respective county. All of this information facilitates a more convenient and transparent voting experience for voters and especially voters with disabilities.
Between May and July of 2016, Disability Rights Washington surveyed the elections websites of all 39 counties in Washington to screen basic accessibility of online voter information across the state. This was not an audit to determine whether websites complied with the law. Rather, our intent was to identify common mistakes that result in barriers to access, and make suggestions for improvements. We conducted our survey with free, readily available, easy to use tools – the same tools counties could use to improve the accessibility of their websites. The issues we identify can all be readily corrected. This report is a summary of what we found, and our recommendations for improvements.