- 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), each polling place will offer at least one type of accessible voting equipment or Direct Record Electronic (“DRE”) device. This equipment allows voters with disabilities to vote directly on the system or assist them in marking the paper ballot. Depending on the type of system, voters with disabilities may use headphones or other assistive devices to help them vote independently and secretly.
It is your right to vote privately and independently. Please call the Bexar County election office at 210-335-VOTE (8683) with questions or suggestions about accessible voting in Bexar County. The information below outlines your rights as a voter. From accessible systems to curbside voting, use the information below to help you plan your trip to the polls.
Accessibile Voting Systems
All Polling Places in Texas Must be Accessible
- Your polling place will meet strict accessibility standards, including:
- A location on the ground floor that can be entered from the street or via an elevator with doors that open at least 36 inches
- Doors, entrances, and exits used to enter or leave the polling place that are at least 32 inches wide
- Any curb next to the main entrance to the polling place must have curb-cuts or temporary non-slip ramps
- Stairs necessary to enter or leave the polling place must have handrails on each side and a non-slip ramp.
- Removal of all barriers such as gravel, automatically closing gates, closed doors without lever-type handles, or any other barrier that impedes the path of the physically disabled to the voting station.
- Voting systems that are accessible to voters with physical disabilities and can accommodate no vision, low vision, no hearing, low hearing, limited manual dexterity, limited reach, limited strength, no mobility, low mobility, or any combination of the foregoing (except the combination of no hearing and no vision)
- Each polling place will offer at least one type of accessible voting equipment or Direct Record Electronic (“DRE”) device. This equipment allows voters with disabilities to vote directly on the system or assist them in marking the paper ballot. Depending on the type of system, voters with disabilities may use headphones or other assistive devices to help them vote independently and secretly.
Accessible Voting: Assistance at the Polls
Tell the election official if you are a voter who needs help to vote. You do not have to provide proof of your disability. Voters are entitled to receive assistance if they:
- Cannot read or write; or
- Have a physical disability that prevents them from reading or marking the ballot; or
- Cannot speak English, or communicate only with sign language, and want assistance in communicating with election officials.
Voters may be assisted by:
- Any person the voter chooses who is not an election worker;
- Two election workers on Election Day; or
- One election worker during early voting.
Voters MAY NOT be assisted by:
- Their employer;
- An agent of their employer; or
- An officer or agent of their union.
The person assisting the voter must read him or her the entire ballot, unless the voter asks to have only parts of the ballot read. The person assisting the voter must take an oath that he or she will not try to influence the voter’s vote and will mark the ballot as the voter directs. If the voter chooses to be assisted by polling place officials, poll watchers and election inspectors may observe the voting process, but if the voter asks to be assisted by a person the voter chooses, no one else may watch him or her vote.
It is illegal for a person assisting the voter to:
- Try to influence the voter’s vote;
- Mark the voter’s ballot in a way other than the way they have asked; or
- Tell anyone how the voter voted.
Accessible Voting: The Use of Interpreters
Voters who cannot speak English, or who communicate only with sign language, may use an interpreter to help them communicate with election officials, regardless of whether the election official(s) attending to the voter can speak the same language as the voter. The voter may select any person other than the voter’s employer, an agent of the voter’s employer, or an officer or agent of a labor union to which the voter belongs. If the voter cannot read the languages on the ballot, the interpreter may also assist by translating the language on the ballot for the voter in the voting booth. (See assistance section above for more details.) If the voter is deaf and does not have a sign language interpreter who can accompany them to help communicate with the poll worker or read the ballot, the voter should contact his or her local election officials before the election and request assistance.
NOTE: This is a change in prior law, due to Court Orders issued on August 12 and 30, 2016.
Accessible Voting: Curbside
If a voter is physically unable to enter the polling place, he or she may ask that an election officer bring a ballot to the entrance of the polling place or to a car at parked at the curbside. After the voter marks the ballot, they will give it to the election officer, who will put it in the ballot box. Or, at the voter’s request, a companion may hand the voter a ballot and deposit it for him or her.
TIP FOR VOTER WITH DISABILITY: 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 November uniform election date or resulting runoff election, the early voting period is the 12th day before Election Day until the 4th day before Election Day.