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Q&A: Voting rights and disability access in Colorado

In Colorado there are no restrictions on voter access due to mental capacity.

DENVER — Jennifer Levin is a senior attorney at Disability Law Colorado, where her focus is on student disability rights and election rights. 

She sat down with 9NEWS to discuss how voting will be different this year for people with disabilities, and what rights exist. 

RELATED: Voter guide 2020: Everything you need to know about the election in Colorado

RELATED: Interactive map: All of the polling places and ballot drop boxes in Colorado

9NEWS: Why is it important to focus on election rights for people with disabilities right now? 

Levin: We have a very big year coming up, very big election so I want to make sure people with disabilities understand they have the right to vote even if they have a guardian.

What are the misconceptions you hear when it comes to people with disabilities voting? 

Levin: So we definitely hear people make the assumption that because a person with a developmental disability has a guardian, that they no longer have the right to vote. That’s absolutely not true in this state...Colorado is one out of 11 states without restrictions on voting rights because of your mental capacity. 

This year people with disabilities have the option to file electronically, why is that helpful? 

Levin: If you want to use your own assistive technology equipment to mark your ballot on your own computer at home, you can now do that. 

So what’s so nice to be able to vote this way is that you have the same access to voting in the comfort of your own home like people without disabilities do now. You still have to print it out and mail the ballot in.

What are barriers that people still might face?

Levin:  Another barrier that we will see are signature matching issues.

I try to tell people with disabilities or who are aging to make sure your registration is up to date with an up to date signature in it. If you can't sign anymore you can use a mark on a ballot with a witness.

You can also get a stamp with your signature.

If someone with needs help filling out their ballot, is that allowed?

Levin: You can’t get your employer to help you vote or your union representative. That’s in the law. So those are the only two people, but if you need assistance you can absolutely get assistance to vote as long as you’re able to make the determination of who you want to cast your vote for.

Disability Law Colorado has voting rights resources on their website and they have partnered with Vote Now Colorado on election day and the day after to staff a hotline to help with voter access issues.  

Just Vote Colorado Election Protection hotline: 

- English: 866-687-8683 

- Spanish: 888-839-8682

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