New Hampshire Governor Requires Accessible Voting Machines for Local Elections

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) takes part in a panel discussion on Nov. 15, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed a bill into law last week that will require cities, towns and school districts to provide accessible voting machines for voters with disabilities in local elections.

Currently, only polling places holding elections for state contests with a federal office on the ballot are required to have accessible voting systems. 

New Hampshire uses the one4all system for statewide federal contests, which includes machines that have a tablet, keyboard, headset and printer to allow voters with disabilities to use audio or an enhanced visual interface to independently fill out their ballots.

Very few local elections offer these same machines, and this new legislation, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, will change that.

In the bill, legislators wrote this change is necessary because not having accessible systems in place creates barriers to voting for individuals with print disabilities, which include blindness, visual impairment, intellectual disabilities and other impairments that prevent a voter from reading, marking or handling a paper ballot on their own.

This effectively takes away their right to cast a ballot privately and independently, which violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), legislators stated.

Cities, towns and school districts must ensure that each polling place has at least one accessible voting system. The secretary of state’s office must have a pilot program in place by June 30 where it distributes these voting machines to each jurisdiction.

While the secretary of state provides the accessible voting systems, the local municipalities are responsible for the costs and processes of implementing, maintaining and securely storing the machines.

“Voting is one of our citizen’s most fundamental rights,” the legislators wrote in the bill. “It is of the utmost importance that all eligible voters have equal access and opportunity to participate in all elections held in this state.”

The fight for voter accessibility has been present all over the country, and there have been some other victories recently. After a favorable court ruling, Wisconsin voters with print disabilities can now request, receive and fill out absentee ballots electronically.

Read the bill here.

Learn more about voter accessibility here.