An audit of the application forms required for registered voters to vote by mail in November discovered that 43 states’ applications had some level of digital inaccessibility – making them challenging or impossible to complete by many people with disabilities. Five states do not have or require an application to vote by mail; two states have another application process.
Web accessibility software and services company Deque Systems, which performed the audit, reached out to each state’s official in advance of this release, and as a free public service is “repairing” these states’ PDF applications to make them usable – or digitally accessible – to people with disabilities. Officials in seven states jumped on this opportunity quickly, working with Deque on their remediated application forms. These states are Georgia, Rhode Island, Ohio, Montana, Missouri, Maryland and Kentucky, Deque reports in a media release.
Download the revised and accessible vote-by-mail applications here.
People with Disabilities: An Outcome Factor
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with disabilities comprise as much as 26% of the population, which, given the slim margin of victory in recent elections, could have a significant impact in November.
Digitally accessible means these citizens can use screen readers or other special tools they depend on daily to read or complete documents on their devices. Michigan and Massachusetts have accessible online application processes in addition to PDFs.
The deadlines to submit vote-by-mail applications vary from state to state, but generally conclude the last 2 weeks of October. Election day is November 3.
Completing an application for a mail-in ballot is a necessary step for mail-in voting in these states. Most Americans file this request online, or by completing the needed application information via a PDF document created and hosted by state governments, Deque Systems continues in the release.
“Mail-in ballots will be a preferred way to vote this year given the pandemic, but many states’ application process will be difficult or impossible for many people with disabilities. While most states made an effort to improve these documents’ digital accessibility to some degree, we still found access barriers across 43 states.
“Voting is a right. It was an easy decision for us to offer these remediated PDFs as a free public service, hopefully making it easier for all to take advantage of mail-in voting options.”
— Preety Kumar, CEO of Deque Systems
[Source(s): Deque Systems, Business Wire]