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Accessible Voting Frequently Asked Questions

May I vote?

To register and vote you must be:

  • a citizen of the United States
  • a legal resident of Washington
  • 18 years old by Election Day
You may not register to vote if you are:
  • presently denied your civil rights due to felony conviction
  • judicially declared mentally incompetent and not allowed to vote
If you are told by an election worker that you may not vote, and you think you are registered, ask for a provisional ballot.

When may I vote?

Accessible Voting Units (AVUs) are available for the 18 days before Election Day and on Election Day.

Is equipment available to help me vote?

Yes. Each county has at least one AVU that presents your ballot on a monitor. You select choices by touching the screen, using a select wheel, or by using a tool. You can also use headphones and listen to your ballot. Machines can be fitted with sip-and-puff tools.

Where can I find an AVU?

Every county must have at least one AVU at each voting center. In counties that vote by mail, the elections department office is a voting center. To learn the address of a voting center in your county, call (800) 448-4881.

What is an AVU?

Voting centers must meet all the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. In addition, the AVU must be wheelchair-accessible and it must be screened from other voters to maintain privacy.

What is a ballot drop box?

A ballot drop box is another way to securely return your mail ballot, without the cost of postage. Drop boxes are accessible and will be open 18 days prior to and including Election Day. For more information on drop boxes contact your county elections department.

How do I use an AVU?

Go to a voting center in your county on or up to 18 days before Election Day. If you receive your ballot in the mail, take it with you to the voting center. An election worker will show you how to use the AVU. Your county elections department may arrange time in advance for you to practice using the AVU.

May I ask for help?

Yes, voters with disabilities may choose to ask for help filling out their ballots. You may bring a person with you to the voting center or you may ask for two election workers – one from each political party – to help you fill out your ballot.

Why are voting machines provided?

The federal government passed a law called the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). This law and other state laws require elections officials to provide voting equipment that allows voters with disabilities to vote as privately and independently as possible.

How does an AVU protect my rights?

The AVU makes it possible for you to make and change your votes before casting your ballot. You will be informed if you have made too many selections (overvoting). In the case of visually impaired voters, an audio warning is provided. AVUs provide a permanent paper record that could be used in an audit or a hand recount.

What about guardianship and voting?

A person who has a guardian may still be able to vote and should not be turned away from a voting center by an election worker. Guardianship papers indicate if an individual has the right to vote. If there is ever doubt about a person’s voting status, the person should vote a provisional ballot.

What should I do if my voting center is not accessible?

If you or someone you know is concerned about a voting center’s accessibility, first please contact your county elections department or contact the Office of the Secretary of State Elections Division at (800) 448-4881.


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Washington Secretary of State
Elections Division
520 Union Ave SE
PO Box 40229, Olympia WA 98504-0229
(360) 902-4180
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