Enabling people with disabilities to vote from home and without assistance
- Country of Implementation
- United States of America
- North America
- Start Year
- First published
“The work of Democracy Live demonstrates that compliance with international standards on accessibility is readily achievable in the elections and voting space.” —Janet Lord, Harvard Law School Project on Disability
Democracy Live, Inc. – a company based in Seattle, Washington – provides accessible online voting technology for elections. In partnership with Amazon and Microsoft, Democracy Live developed OmniBallot, an accessible online voting system available via computer, tablet, or smartphone, thus enabling people with disabilities to vote from home and to do so independent of support. Since its launch in 2015, over 1 million voters with disabilities have used the system.
Due to intellectual or physical disabilities as well as limited transportation to and from voting locations, voters with disabilities lack equal access to participating in elections.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
OmniBallot is a software tool whereby people are given an online ballot that can be delivered via a tablet, a mobile device, or through the Amazon cloud. The ballots use accessible navigation tools, such as headphones, a key pad, a sip-and-puff joystick (a computer mouse-like device that allows the user to move the cursor), Braille, or any other accessible computer navigation tool. As additional support, OmniBallot offers video guides and an accessible sample ballot to inform and guide voters. Once the ballot has been filled in, voters are directed to print out the ballot and send it to a designated address via regular mail. Between 2015 and 2018, the system has been applied in over 100 elections in the United States, and it has been used by over 1 million voters with disabilities in 96 countries worldwide.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
Democracy Live is a privately-held company that contracts with state and local governments, and has received funding from the United States Elections Assistance Commission and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for their accessible voting solutions. Contracts are typically annual and are based on the number of voters in a state or jurisdiction. The OmniBallot system started in 2015 with one county in California, and as of 2018 has been applied in almost half of all counties in California. Beyond California, Democracy Live accessible voting technologies have been deployed in over 400 election jurisdictions around the U.S. In addition to its expansion within the United States, the OmniBallot system is available in over 70 languages.