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Indiana Protection & Advocacy Services

IPAS > Equal Access > Voting Voting

Voting is everyone's right as an American and because everyone, regardless of age, race, religion or disability, has the right to vote, it is important to understand Indiana's voting system and your rights. Following are some key definitions regarding voting in Indiana:

Primary Election Day is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in May. Indiana primaries are "closed" primaries. When you sign in at your polling place, the clerks will ask you which political party ballot you prefer. You vote for only the candidates on this ballot. In the primary, you will nominate the candidates of your party who will be on the ballot in the general election. If you are 17 years of age at the time of the primary election, and will be 18 before the general election, you may cast a vote in the primary election.

General Election Day is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Listed on the ballot will be candidates of both major political parties and third party candidates. At some elections, referenda may be included on the ballot.

Nonpartisan Elections may be held at the same time and place as the primary election. You must be 18 to vote in these nonpartisan elections. Selected at these elections are school board members. You need not declare a party preference if you are voting only in these elections.

Voting Requirements:

In Indiana polls are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition to the resources listed above, polling place locations are printed in the newspaper.

Don't forget to vote on Election Day and remember that to vote in Indiana, you must have government-issued photo identification.

Source: Indiana Secretary of State Elections Division; http://www.sos.in.gov/

LAWS RELEVANT TO VOTERS WITH DISABILITIES

Voting Rights Act of 1965 - Prohibits discriminatory voting practices and procedures, which can include redistricting plans and at-large election systems, poll worker hiring, and some voter registration procedures. This law allows voters with disabilities to receive assistance from a person of the voter's choice, other than the voter's employer or agent of the employer or union. View the Voting Rights Acts of 1965.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973 - Requires recipients of federal funds to make their programs and activities accessible to people with disabilities. Both private and public entities are included. View the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act (VAA) of 1984 - Calls for polling and voter registration locations to be accessible to citizens with disabilities. The act also says if a location is not accessible, the voting site will be moved to a new location or a polling official will come to the home of a person who cannot access the polling site and register him or her to vote or take his or her ballot. View the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 - Ensures that alternative means of registration and voting are accepted ways to participate in an election. Title II covers state and local governments and requires facilities and services to be accessible. Title III requires public places, such as restaurants and stores, to be accessible. View the Americans with Disabilities Act.

National Voter Registration Act of 1995 (Motor Voter Law) - Requires any government offices that license motor vehicles or provide services using state monies to offer citizens the chance to register to vote. Because citizens with disabilities are often clients of government and private agencies that provide services using tax dollars, the Motor Voter Law is an important law to increase political participation by citizens with disabilities. View the National Voter Registration Act.

Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 - Requires all polling places to be accessible and mandates that polling places offer at least one voting machine allowing voters with disabilities, including those with visual impairments, to cast their ballots privately and independently. View the Help America Vote Act.

A Guide to Disability Rights Laws

HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT (HAVA)

In 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the Help America Vote Act or HAVA. This legislation is aimed at improving the general election process and sets forth new federal election requirements for state election officials to follow. Some of the new guidelines regarding people with disabilities include:

  • Each voting place is required to have at least one voting machine that is accessible for people with disabilities.
  • Each state must develop a system that allows voters to check for errors on their ballots and make corrections privately and independently.
  • Each polling place must be accessible to people with disabilities.

For more information on Indiana's plan for the implementation of HAVA, please visit Indiana Secretary of State Web site: www.in.gov/sos/elections/hava/

For more information on HAVA as a federal law, please visit the Federal Election Commission's Web site: http://www.fec.gov/

HAVA Grievance Hotline

Source: Indiana Secretary of State Elections Division; http://www.in.gov/sos/elections/hava

PROTECTION AND ADVOCACY FOR VOTING ACCESS (PAVA)

In October 2003, in compliance with the Help America Vote Act, funds were appropriated to IPAS to ensure full participation in the electoral process for people with disabilities. Protection and Advocacy for Voting Access or PAVA, ensures that IPAS can answer questions regarding voting rights and can assist people with disabilities with the complaint process.

Following is a list of things people with disabilities have the right to expect from a polling place:

  • The site should have clearly marked, accessible parking.
  • If the main entrance is not accessible, there must be a clearly marked accessible entrance.
  • One must be able to enter the site without difficulty.
  • The path from the entrance to the voting area should be level and clear of obstacles.
  • At least one voting machine should be accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Accommodations should be available to allow individuals with blindness or low vision to cast their vote privately.
  • Wheelchair users or individuals who cannot stand for long periods of time should be accommodated to be allowed to sit while voting.
  • If assistance is needed to vote, one must be allowed to designate a person to assist, provided that person is not your employer or union representative.

Voting Guide 2008

View the complete PAVA brochure

Election Fraud and Accessibility Grievance form

2008 Indiana Disability Poll

VOTER BILL OF RIGHTS

According to the Indiana Secretary of State's office, the Voter's Bill of Rights explains in plain language what Hoosiers can expect when they come to the polls, and gives a clear explanation of the qualifications that voters must meet to exercise their right to vote. The document also includes a detailed description of the fail-safe procedures available to safeguard the rights of voters and is required to be displayed in all polling places statewide.

For people with disabilities, the Voter's Bill of Rights states that:

  • The Constitution of the United States of America says that I have the right to take part in civic life.
  • If I am registered to vote in Indiana, I have the right to vote in this election.
  • I have the right to vote by myself or with help and I can select who I want to assist me.
  • Even if I have a conservator, I may vote unless a court specifically said I cannot.
  • I have the right to vote the way I want.
  • I have the right to get help if someone tries to stop me from voting.
  • I have the right to be shown how to make my choices on my ballot.
  • If I am waiting in line when the poll closes, I must be allowed to vote.

View Indiana Voter's Bill of Rights in its entirety

View Indiana Voter's Bill of Rights in Spanish

Source: Indiana Secretary of State Elections Division; http://www.in.gov/sos/elections/hava/pdf/VBR_FINAL.pdf

ACCESSIBILITY TO POLLING PLACES

There are 54 million Americans with disabilities and more than half a million potential voters with disabilities in Indiana. These disabilities are more diverse than just wheelchair use. Disabilities include:

  • Impaired vision
  • Impaired mobility
  • Impaired communication
  • Impaired dexterity

Law requires that polling locations are to be accessible to disabled and elderly voters, and provide the same access to participation as other voters. Polling places must meet accessibility standards for parking spaces, paths and entrances, leading to the polling place, paths of travel within the building where the polling place is located and the rooms or areas within the facility where the polling place is located.

Accessible Voting Machines

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires at least one accessible voting machine be placed in each polling place in addition to making the facility physically accessible.

Accessible voting systems are designed to meet the needs of voters with physical and sensory impairments. Please review instructions for operation of the accessible system(s) in your polling place.

Removing Barriers for Voters with Disabilities

A Guide to Polling Place Accessibility in Indiana

ADA Checklist for Polling Places

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Who can register to vote?
You can register to vote and participate in the election process in Indiana if:

  • You are a United States citizen
  • You are at least 18 years old on or before Election Day
  • You have lived in the Indiana precinct where you will vote for at least 29 days before the general election
  • You are not currently in prison after being convicted of a crime
  • You register to vote at least 29 days before the election, and your application is approved
How do I register to vote?

To complete a voter registration application you must provide your:

  • Name
  • Residential address
  • Birth date
  • Signature (indicating that you meet voter registration requirements)
  • Voter identification number - an Indiana driver's license number, state identification card number or last four digits of your social security number

Voter registration forms and assistance in completing them are available at many locations, including:

  • Voter registration offices
  • BMV license branches
  • Disability offices, including Indiana Area Agencies on Aging and FSSA Division of Disability, Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DDARS)
  • Public libraries

If you register by mail and you have not previously registered in your county, you must include a copy of your identification with your registration. This may be your Indiana driver's license or photo ID issued by the BMV, or you may use the following alternative identification that contains your name and current address:

  • A current utility bill
  • A current bank statement
  • A current paycheck or government check
  • Other government documents

What if I am unable to fill out the voter registration form myself?
Someone can help you fill out the form. If you cannot sign your name, you must make an identifying mark on the signature line. If someone fills out the form for you, that person must write their name and address in the lower right corner of the form.

Where do I go to vote?
If you are unsure where your polling place is located, contact your county election board. You can also use the Secretary of State's Polling Place Locator.

What do I need to bring with me to vote?

Every voter must provide a photo ID that meets the following criteria:

  • ID displays the voter's photo
  • ID displays the voter's name, and the name must conform with the voter registration record
  • ID displays an expiration date and is either current or expired sometime after the date of the last General Election (November 2, 2004)
  • ID must be issued by the State of Indiana or the U.S. government

In most cases, an Indiana driver's license, Indiana photo ID card, US Passport, or Military ID is sufficient. A student ID from an Indiana state school may only be used if it meets all of the four criteria specified above. A student ID from a private institution may not be used for voting purposes.

If you do not have photo ID when you appear to vote, you may cast a "provisional ballot", which permits you to vote on Election Day. You must present photo ID to your county election board no later than noon 13 days after Election Day for your provisional ballot to be counted. You may obtain a free photo ID from the BMV if you do not have an Indiana driver's license, and can claim an exemption from this requirement if you are indigent, or have a religious objection to being photographed.

Can I have assistance if I need it to vote?
Yes, if you have a disability or are unable to read and write and you need help in voting, a poll worker may assist you or you can choose another person to assist you, as long as the person you choose is not your employer or your union representative. You must request assistance before you enter the voting booth.

What if I cannot go to the polling place on Election Day?

Absentee Voting
If you are a registered voter of the precinct where you reside, and you wish to vote in person at the circuit court clerk's office, you may vote by absentee ballot. If you are eligible to vote absentee, you may choose to have your absentee ballot sent to you by mail or delivered to you by a traveling board.

If eligible, you may vote an absentee ballot in your county clerk's office. Complete an absentee ballot application, which you can download from this web site and vote at your county clerk's office by noon the day before Election Day. Absentee voting in the clerk's office begins 29 days before the election, and will be available at least two Saturdays before Election Day.

Or, if you meet the requirements and are eligible to vote absentee, you may vote by mail. First, you must complete an absentee ballot application and return it to your county election board (at the clerk's office). Applications from most voters must be received, whether submitted by mail or fax, at least eight days before Election Day. (If you are a confined voter, a voter caring for a confined individual, a military voter, or an overseas voter, there are other deadlines and requirements that apply. Please contact your county election board or county clerk for more information.)

You are eligible to vote absentee if you:

  • Have a specific, reasonable expectation that you will be absent from your county of residence on Election Day during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open (6a.m. to 6p.m.).
  • Will be an election official.
  • Will be confined on Election Day due to illness or injury during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
  • Are a voter with disabilities
  • Are 65 years of age or older
  • Are a caretaker of an individual(s) confined to a private residence due to illness or injury and prevented from voting during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open.
  • Are scheduled to work for the entire 12 hours that the poll is open
  • Are prevented from voting due to observing a religious discipline or holiday during the entire 12 hours that the polls are open or
  • Participate in the address confidentiality program

How to vote an absentee ballot in your county clerk's office: If you are eligible to vote absentee, you may vote in your county clerk's office before Election Day. First, you must complete an absentee ballot application, which you can download from this web site. Second, you must vote at your county clerk's office by noon the day before Election Day. Absentee voting in the clerk's office begins 29 days before the election, and will be available at least two Saturdays before Election Day.

How to vote absentee by mail: If you are eligible to vote absentee, and meet the requirements listed above, you may vote by mail. First, you must complete an absentee ballot application and return it to your county election board (at the clerk's office). Applications from most voters must be received, whether submitted by mail or fax, at least 8 days before Election Day. (If you are a confined voter, a voter caring for a confined individual, a military voter, or an overseas voter, there are other deadlines and requirements that apply. Please contact your county election board or county clerk for more information.)

Application for Absentee Ballot

Absentee Voter Bill of Rights