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AARP Wisconsin Helps Secure Assistance for Voters With Disabilities

Woman Mailing Her Absentee Voter Ballot
Spiderstock/Getty Images

En español | Wisconsin voters who have a disability will be able to get help casting an absentee ballot without needing to prove their disability, thanks to recent guidance from the Wisconsin Elections Commission. AARP Wisconsin had urged the commission to allow disabled voters to designate someone to return their absentee ballots for them — and to limit any additional ID requirements or logistical hurdles that would make casting a ballot more difficult. 

“Voters age 50-plus make up 55 percent of Wisconsin’s registered voters,” Martha Cranley, state director of AARP Wisconsin, said in a statement following the commission’s action. “Ensuring that these voters – regardless of their mobility or health status – can participate in the democratic process is a big win for Wisconsin.” 

A Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling in July that absentee ballot drop boxes were illegal meant  absentee ballots could not be returned by anyone else, regardless of a voter’s disability status. Several disabled voters filed a lawsuit citing violations of the Voting Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws, and a circuit court ruled in their favor in late August. 

Our Wisconsin office, with the help of AARP Foundation, wrote to the elections commission urging it to allow voters to receive assistance returning their ballots without having to prove their disability status. Last week, the commission told local election clerks to allow representatives to do just that. 

We’ve been active across the country in supporting efforts to improve voter accessibility. Delaware Gov. John Carney recently signed AARP-backed bills introducing no-excuse absentee voting and allowing voters to register up to and on Election Day. And Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker in July signed an AARP-backed bill extending the state’s voter registration window and expanding mandatory early voting hours on weekends. 

Read more about the Wisconsin victory, and check to see if voting procedures have changed in your state.

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