By John-Tyler, 2022 Voter Engagement Intern
People with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) have historically faced many challenges regarding open and free access to voting. Over the past several decades, measures such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the Help Americans Vote Act (HAVA), have helped to counteract some voting challenges for people with I/DD.
However, despite the progress made over the years, transportation is one of the main barriers to voting for people with I/DD. Accessing reliable transportation to and from polls on election day can be a difficult challenge. Fortunately, the state of Colorado has a large mail-in voting system through which Colorado residents are automatically issued a mail-in ballot if they are registered to vote. Mail-in voting has made voting more accessible to all Coloradans, including those with I/DD, other disabilities, and aging voters. A voter can mail their ballot or put it in a designated drop box. Drop boxes are located throughout the state and are often at places accessible via public transportation, like libraries and county and/or city buildings.
While mail-in ballots are a widespread option in Colorado, for some people with disabilities, voting in person is preferred due to required accommodations. Polling places must be wheelchair accessible and provide equal access to voting machines. Access to audio ballots or assistive devices to vote independently are also available, versus relying on a paid support person, family member, or friend to assist. Even with these accommodations, accessible and reliable transportation to and from voter service and polling centers (VSPC) or drop boxes is still needed.
Below is a list of transportation resources that may assist voters before or on election day:
- Access-A-Ride is a public transportation service that provides bus transportation for people with disabilities within the Denver metro area. To order a ride, call (303) 292-6560. The one-way fare for a ticket is $5.00 locally and $9.00 regionally, making this a relatively inexpensive option. Rides must be reserved one to seven days in advance; same-day rides are not provided. Additionally, you must live in the service area and near a bus route to receive service
- Rideshare services (Uber, Lyft) provide transportation services and rides that can be ordered and paid for online or in-app without the need for cash or having to call someone on the phone. Uber and Lyft give riders the option to request a wheelchair-accessible vehicle (WAV) and for assisted rides where the driver will help someone enter and exit the vehicle. Drivers are informed of their obligation to transport service animals accompanying the rider. Uber and Lyft have several policies to prevent discrimination and provide equal access to their services for people with disabilities. The availability and pricing of rideshare programs may vary depending on where you live and travel. This year, Lyft is offering discounts to voters traveling to the polls on election day. Rideshare2vote is another transportation resource that connects voters with free round-trip transportation to polling places.
- Denver Regional Mobility and Access Councils (DRMAC) maintains a transit guide that may have resources to help with transportation on election day. They also offer a guide to finding transit providers in your area.
- Click here for other public transportation options available in Colorado, depending on where you live.
Do you have other great transportation resources to help voters with disabilities get to the polls? Email Kim Tenure, Associate Director of Disability Policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org with any suggestions to keep this list updated.
To learn more and register to vote in Colorado, visit www.GoVoteColorado.gov.