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Blueprint for Action Recommendations of the Voting Symposium. Charlie Sabatino ABA Commission on Law and Aging October 10, 2008. Dual concerns. Where and how to draw the line between enabling voting by those who can and preventing voting for those who should not

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blueprint for action recommendations of the voting symposium

Blueprint for ActionRecommendations of the Voting Symposium

Charlie Sabatino

ABA Commission on Law and Aging

October 10, 2008

dual concerns
Dual concerns
  • Where and how to draw the line between enabling voting by those who can and preventing voting for those who should not
    • Creatively facilitating voting, especially in residential facilities, by those who can
    • Protecting election integrity by preventing fraud
search for answers
Search for Answers
  • Pacific McGeorge Law School Symposium – March 2007
    • Invited multidisciplinary experts
    • Commissioned 6 papers [published at

38 McGeorge L. Rev. Issue 4 (2007)]

    • Facilitated discussion
    • Recommendations of the Symposium
      • ABA action – August 2007
      • See www.abanet.org/aging/voting/
symposium organization
Symposium Organization

Five Working Groups

  • The “Big Picture”: How Aging and Cognitive Impairment Fits into the Broader Issues of Access to Voting
  • Defining and Assessing Capacity to Vote
  • Absentee Balloting
  • Long-Term Care
  • Technology
major issues
Major Issues
  • In what ways, if at all, should persons with impairment be treated differently?
  • Who should determine intent, or capacity, to vote? How to define?
  • How large is the risk of fraud to the harm of exclusion?
  • Is absentee balloting the best accommodation?
  • What are the barriers, risks, and opportunities in long-term care facilities?
  • What opportunities or dangers does technology offer?
recommendations addressed
Recommendations Addressed
  • Changes in statute or regulation
  • Changes in practice
  • Education
  • Further study
i big picture principles
I. Big Picture Principles
  • Society facilitate access while preserving integrity.
  • PwD should not be held to a different or higher standard.
  • Public & private entities must provide reasonable accommodations to ensure access to voting.
  • Goal 1: Prevent unfair &/or unlawful exclusion.
  • Goal 2: Maximize access by adequate & appropriate assistance.
  • Goal 3. Improve administration to facilitate voting by all individuals, particularly people with cog. Imp.
  • Goal 4: Ensure individuals with cog. Imp. have the opportunity to register to vote.
ii major resolutions capacity
II. Major Resolutions – Capacity
  • Persons with cog. imp. should be treated no differently than others (Principle)
  • No disqualification on the basis of medical diagnosis, disability status, or residence
  • Presumption of capacity to vote
  • If state law permits exclusion based on incapacity, removal only by specific determination established by C&C evidence in a full judicial proceeding
  • Incapacity standard: only if cannot communicate, w/ or w/o accommodations, a specific desire to participate in the voting process
iii major resolutions absentee balloting
III. Major Resolutions –Absentee Balloting
  • All jurisdictions should permit voters the open-ended choice to “vote at home”
  • Default presumption: vote where reside, with choice by LTC residents
  • Signature verification accommodation needed
  • More information – simple and accurate – for voters and those who assist re how to vote at home and how to assist
iv major resolutions ltc facilities
IV. Major Resolutions –LTC Facilities
  • Long range: Mobile Polling
  • Require election officials, not facility staff, to oversee voting
  • Require Facilities to inform/assist residents with registration, and in absence of mobile polling, to offer assistance with absentee voting.
  • Clarify responsibilities of anyone who assists:
    • No authority to assess capacity
    • Assistance limited to assisting voter to express intent
    • If unable to determine voter’s intent, no vote
  • Accept facilities’ ID of residents as sufficient verification
v major resolutions technology
V. Major Resolutions –Technology
  • Plain language/multiple formats election materials
  • Assistive technology, universal accessibility & design of all polling places & voting machines
  • Innovative opportunities to register (online)
  • Quality development for usability/accessibility of technology
  • Aim: persons with any disability (physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or mental) can vote privately and independently on any machine.
more resolutions research education
More Resolutions –Research & Education
  • Research
    • Ballot formats, effective communication, & technologies
    • Impact of current law & practical barriers
    • Voting practices of disabled populations
    • Signature verification procedures & options
  • Education of poll workers, judges, facility staff, family, guardians to address needs of voters with cognitive impairments & how to assist
some actions to consider
Some Actions to Consider
  • Guidelines for judges in assessing voting capacity
  • Vote at home option (no-excuse/permanent)
  • Review signature verification procedures
  • Mobile polling demonstration
  • More guidance in NH licensure re facilities obligations
  • Educational materials for assisting voters with cog. Imp. And for voting in LTC facilities.
  • Poll worker training re disabilities including cog. imp.