Vermont’s election laws are designed to make it easy for all eligible Vermonters to vote and to register to vote. One of the specific purposes of the Vermont Election Laws is “to provide equal opportunity for all citizens of voting age to participate in political processes” 17 V.S.A. §2101.
People with disabilities, and other voters, have many options in how they can register to vote and in getting assistance both in voting and in registering to vote. See below for detailed information on the "vote-by-phone" voting system that is available in every Vermont polling place.
Voting rights as a person with a disability:
- The right to vote (if you are otherwise qualified)
- The right to access your polling place
- The right to receive reasonable accommodations for your disability
If you need accommodations to assist you with voting, you may:
- Contact your Town Clerk to request accommodations
- Bring a person of your choice into the voting booth with you for assistance (not your employer or union representative)
- Ask an election official for assistance with marking your ballot
- Ask an election official to bring a ballot to your car
- Bring a magnifying glass or other devices to help you use the ballot
- Bring a list of candidates into the voting booth to help you
- Ask for another ballot (maximum of 3) if you make a mistake
- Use the “vote-by-phone” method of voting
If you experience problems with voting you may contact:
Disability Rights Vermont
141 Main Street, Suite 7, Montpelier, VT 05602
1-800-834-7890 or 1-802-229-1355
Vermont Secretary of State, Elections Division
128 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05602
Vermont Center for Independent Living
Green Mountain Self Advocates
Vermont’s vote-by-phone system enables people with disabilities to vote privately and independently at the polling place. This coming election, in addition to all of the other ways you can vote, people with disabilities will be given the option of voting by phone at the polls using the Vermont’s vote-by-phone system.
How It Works
The voter goes to his or her polling place, signs in and indicates that he or she wishes to use the vote-by-phone system. A poll worker uses a designated telephone to call the system, enters the poll worker and ballot access IDs to bring up the appropriate ballot, then gives the phone to the voter and leaves the voting booth.
The system reads the ballot to the voter and, after the voter makes ballot selections using the telephone keypad, the system prints out a paper ballot at the Office of the Secretary of State. The paper ballot is automatically scanned and can be played back to the voter for verification upon request by the voter. The voter may decide to cast it or discard it and revote.
Preview and Practice Feature
Vermont’s vote-by-phone system permits voters to practice voting on the system prior to Election Day. This will make it easier for voters and election workers on Election Day by decreasing the amount of time voters will require casting their ballots on Election Day. Prior to the election, voters will be able to use any touchtone telephone to call into the system and to practice voting. This will allow voters to become familiar with the contests and candidates on their actual ballot.
Try It Out
To try the system and practice voting your ballot:
- You can call 1-866-486-3838 at any time to find out how the vote-by-phone system works. To listen to a demonstration ballot: when prompted to enter a ballot access ID number, please enter 001 and you will hear a sample ballot for the town of Addison. If it is within 15 days of a primary or general election, you will hear the actual ballot for the next election, or if not, then you will hear a sample ballot from the last primary or general election to allow you to become familiar with the features of the system.
- Within 15 days of the next primary or general election, if you want to hear the candidates who will be on the ballot for your town, call your town clerk to request the ballot access ID number for your voting district. Now when you call 1-866-486-3838, at the prompt you will enter the three digit ballot access ID number for your own voting district. The system will then announce the name of your town and voting district and you will hear all of the races and candidates that will be on your ballot in the next primary or general election.
- You can call in and practice as many times as you want. Most voters tell us that after using the system two or three times they can move quickly through all of the candidates and races on the ballot.
All phone calls are answered by a computer system which is located at a secure location and is controlled by authorized election officials. The computer will only permit access to the system from phone numbers that have been entered into the system prior to the election, and only after the proper poll worker and ballot access ID numbers have been entered.
The vote-by-phone system will be pre-tested before every election to ensure accurate programming. The system makes no use of the Internet or any other data network, so the system cannot be “hacked.” The only system input comes from DTMF tones, the distinct sounds generated by the telephone when its buttons are pressed.
The vote-by-phone system produces a voter-verified paper ballot for every vote cast and the process can be monitored by observers.
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) required states to implement voting systems that are accessible for individuals with disabilities and permit voters who are blind or visually-impaired to cast their votes privately and independently. The vote-by-phone system purchased by the state of Vermont is designed to meet this mandate.
The Inspire Vote-by-Phone system is produced by IVS, a voting services company located in Louisville, Kentucky, that specializes in telephone voting. This vote-by-phone system will allow voters to mark a paper ballot using a regular telephone at the polling place.