Accessible Absentee Voting for the Blind in Minnesota
For decades, the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota has worked with the state legislature, Secretary of State, and other partners to make voting accessible for blind Minnesotans. Because of our organization’s advocacy, non-visually accessible tools have been present at each polling place for nearly twenty years. Absentee ballots, however, have remained inaccessible, as they relied upon pen and paper.
This year, blind Minnesotans can vote privately, safely and accessibly, because the Secretary of State did the right thing by developing an electronic tool to mark absentee ballots from home.
While blind Minnesotans may need assistance to sign the ballot envelope and add their identification number, the ballot itself can remain private.
Follow these steps to request, complete, and return your accessible, absentee ballot.
- Request your absentee ballot using the standard process. You will need the envelopes that will be sent with your paper, absentee ballot, so don’t throw them away!
- Contact your county’s election office (Office of the County Auditor), and request an an electronic ballot as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. For assistance finding this contact information, call (612) 872-9363.
- Follow the link and instructions that your County Auditor will e-mail to you to reach the Omniballot system hosted by Democracy Live.
- Print the marked ballot, and seal it inside the smallest, tan envelope (called the Secrecy Envelope) sent with your absentee ballot.
- Insert the Secrecy Envelope into the medium-sized, white Signature Envelope and seal it. At this point, you may need sighted assistance to fully complete the required form fields (including signing the envelope and writing your state ID card number or last four digits of your Social Security Number…whichever you used when requesting to vote absentee).
- Place this sealed envelope inside the largest Mailing/Return Envelope, seal it, and ensure that it is postmarked by Election Day.
Contact the Minnesota Voter Help Hotline at (651) 215-1440 and ask to speak with Brad N. or Christine for any questions related to accessible voting.
In 2015, the National Federation of the Blind—who has completed surveys of blind voters from 2002 to 2018—produced this short video about the experience of blind voters.