NIST Seeks Public Input on Removing Barriers to Voting for People With Disabilities

NIST Seeks Public Input on Removing Barriers to Voting for People With Disabilities

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To help foster wider access to voting, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is requesting information from the public about barriers that limit the ability of people with disabilities to vote privately and independently.    

The request for information (RFI), which appears today in the Federal Register, is part of NIST’s response to the March 7, 2021, Executive Order (EO) 14019 on Promoting Access to Voting. NIST will use the responses it receives to inform a report planned for December 2021 offering recommendations on how to overcome barriers that these voters experience.  

“A wide spectrum of issues can create barriers to voting,” said NIST’s Sharon Laskowski, a member of the research team behind the project. “Voters with physical disabilities, for example, may have challenges with registration, or with traveling to and entering the polling place, or with filling out their ballots privately and independently. We’re looking at how technology can help remove those barriers.”

Section 7 of EO 14019 specifies that NIST will evaluate the steps needed to ensure that the online Federal Voter Registration Form — also called the National Mail Voter Registration Form — is accessible to people with disabilities. It also states that NIST will work with U.S. agencies including the Department of Justice and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to analyze barriers to private and independent voting for people with disabilities, including access to voter registration, voting technology, voting by mail, polling locations and poll worker training.

The effort will build on NIST’s responsibilities under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which Congress passe ..

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