Voters with Special Needs

Voting is one of our nation’s most fundamental rights and a hallmark of our democracy. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that provides protections to people with disabilities that are similar to protections provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion.

Title II of the ADA requires state and local governments (“public entities”) to ensure that people with disabilities have a full and equal opportunity to vote. The ADA’s provisions apply to all aspects of voting, including voter registration, site selection, and the casting of ballots, whether on Election Day or during an early voting in-person process.

Voting by Mail

Voters 18 years of age and older with disabilities, voters 65 years of age and older, and voters who expect to be out of the county during both the early voting period and election day may request a ballot be mailed to them.

To vote by mail, you must first apply for a ballot. Applications are not sent out without a specific request from the voter.

Your application must be received no earlier than January 1st of the year in which the election is held and no later than the close of business 11 days before election day. If the deadline falls on a weekend, the last day to submit an application is the preceding Friday. If the deadline falls on a state or federal holiday, the ballot application must be received on the preceding business day.

See Absentee Mail Voting for more information.

Polling Place Accessibility

The Lubbock County Elections Office is dedicated to making all polling places fully accessible, including the pathway to the polling place. Polling places are inspected to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Checklist for Polling Places, and election workers are trained to offer support to persons with special needs.

Accessible Voting System

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. Lubbock County’s Hart Verity Touch Voting System with Verity Access meets the disability standards as prescribed by the Texas Secretary of State and Federal Help America Vote Act. These features allow voters to cast their votes privately, securely and without assistance.

The Hart Verity Touch Voting System with Verity Access is available at all voting locations to serve Lubbock County voters who are blind, have limited vision, or limited dexterity that prevents them from marking the ballot without assistance. The Hart Voting System is ADA compliant and certified by the Texas Secretary of State for use in Texas. This is an option at all Early Voting and Election Day polling locations in Lubbock County.

The Verity Access Audio Tactile Interface (ATI) provides audio ballots with volume and speed controls, adaptive device compatibility and Braille. Intuitive navigation and plain-language instructions make marking accurate choices quick and easy. Flexible settings for voter ease – the voter can change the language, text size and screen contrast at any time during the voting process.

Voting Booth Access HeadphonesTactile SwitchesSip-and-Puff

 
The Hart Verity Touch Voting System with Verity Access offers accessibility in the following ways:

    Wheelchair Accessible – At least one voting booth at each polling site is ADA compliant. It is the perfect height for a chair or wheelchair to fit comfortably.

    Verity Access – Provides a Move wheel to navigate through the ballot and a Select button to make ballot selections. Request poll worker assistance with the Help button. The tethered controller can be extended to wherever it is easiest for the voter to use.

    Headphones – Voters who are visually impaired or blind may choose to use headphones to hear the ballot read aloud. The audio is recorded in both English and Spanish. Voters can also customize volume and speed.

    Jelly Switches – Two large tactile switches are available for any voter who has limited upper body mobility or limited dexterity. The switches are light touch and can be placed anywhere the voter chooses. The switches can be activated using an adaptive device or just about any part of the body, including the feet. The red jelly switch is similar to the Move wheel. Click the red jelly switch to move through ballot options. The green jelly switch is similar to the Select button. Click the green jelly switch to make ballot selections.

    Sip-and-Puff Device – Voters with limited body mobility may also vote privately using a sip-and-puff device to move through the ballot and mark choices. Poll workers are trained to help disconnect the device from the wheelchair and connect it to Verity Access so voting using one’s breath can begin. “Sipping” functions similarly to the Move wheel. Sip to move through ballot options. “Puffing” is similar to the Select button. Puff to to make ballot selections.

How to cast your ballot using Verity Touch with Access

How to cast your ballot using Verity Touch with Access – Spanish

Receiving 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.

Using an Interpreter

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.

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, please use RelayTexas (dial 7-1-1) in order to contact us at 806-775-1338 and request assistance.

American Sign Language Interpreters are available at select polling locations on Election Day. Those polling locations will be noted for each election on the Election Day Vote Center Locations page.

Curbside Voting

Curbside Voting

If you are physically unable to enter the polling place without personal assistance or likelihood of injuring your health, you may ask that an election officer bring a secure voting unit to you at the entrance of the polling location or to a car at curbside. Curbside Voting is available during Early Voting and on Election Day.

If you have an assistant with you when you arrive at the polling location, have them notify the election official at that time. The election official will then bring your ballot to your car outside the polling location. If you do NOT have an assistant, please call 806-775-1338 ahead of time to notify the election clerk that you want to vote curbside.

Provisions for Voting Order Priority

The Texas Legislature recently approved House Bill 658, which adds new laws for voters with certain disabilities. An election officer may give voting order priority to individuals with a mobility problem that substantially impairs the person’s ability to move around.

    •A person assisting an individual with a mobility problem may also, at the individual’s request, be given voting order priority.

    •Disabilities and conditions that may qualify you for voting order priority include paralysis, lung disease, the use of portable oxygen, cardiac deficiency, severe limitation in the ability to walk due to arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition, wheelchair confinement, arthritis, foot disorder, the inability to walk 200 feet without stopping to rest, or use of a brace, cane, crutch, or other assistive device.

    •Voters who wish to be given voting order priority, and be accepted for voting before others in line to vote at that polling place, may indicate this to any election officer serving at the polling place. The presiding election judge will determine whether the voter and the voter’s assistant, if applicable, will be brought forward to the front of the line.

Notice of Voting Order Priority

Special Circumstances

You may submit an application for a late ballot because of sickness or disability after the last day of early voting and before 5:00 p.m. on election day. In order to qualify, the sickness or disability must originate on or after the 12th day before election day. (Secs. 102.001; 102.003)

You may submit an application to vote due to a death in the immediate family that occurred on or after the 5th day before election day and will be absent from the county on election day. (Secs. 103.001; 103.003b)

Voters are required to submit an application for these specific instances. Please contact the Lubbock County Elections Office at 806-775-1338 for more information.

 
Additional Resources:
Texas Secretary of State
Disability Rights Texas
Americans with Disabilities Act
U.S. Election Assistance Commission

If you have further questions, please contact our office:
Lubbock County Elections Office
1308 Crickets Avenue
P.O. Box 10536
Lubbock, TX 78408

Phone: 806-775-1338
Email: votelubbock@lubbockcounty.gov