Sabe USA

The National Technical Assistance Center for Voting and Cognitive Access helps protection and advocacy systems, election officials and people with disabilities to make voting accessible for all citizens.

The Center is managed and operated by leaders in the self-advocacy movement. 



NEW To GoVoter

  • The Project Vote Toolkit is now available for free download on the Vote Toolkit page.
  • 2014 Election Day Campaign.
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Nancy Ward and Teresa Moore sitting in front of a laptop computer.


Project Vote is getting ready for the 2014 National Elections to once again document the voting experiences of voters with DD.  Just as in the 2012 Election Voters with DD were  interviewed about their voting experiences for accessibility outside and inside their polling location.

Voters with disabilities continue to have challenges at the polls and must let the Election Officials know exactly what is needed to make voting possible for all citizens.  That is why Project Vote is getting ready for the 2014 Election Day.

 Tia Nelis and Essie Pederson working together on Project VOTE.Tia Nelis and Essie Pederson working together on Project VOTE.

Thanks to the Georgia, Oklahoma, and Ohio P&As and self advocacy groups for volunteering to pilot the revised Election Day Checklist, based on the lessons learned in 2012, for the 2013 Election.  The purpose of this grassroots campaign was to finalize the most effective way and important questions to get answers that will make voting accessible, private, and confidential for all voters.

Help us next Election Day by sharing your voting experiences by filling out our Election Day Accessibility Checklist.  Your state P&A and self advocacy group will be contacting you.  If you have any questions and would like to learn more about the 2014 Grassroots Election Day Campaign or volunteer to help please contact, Co-Director, Nancy Ward at .


NEWApproach to
Teach the Project Vote! Toolkit

The SABE National Technical Assistance Center for Voting and Cognitive Access is pleased to announce a new on-line internet training “How to Get the Best Out of Your Project Vote! Training”. 

Only 3 states have been invited to be a part of this pilot to create Voter Education Teams of state P&As and Self Advocacy Groups to teach the Project Vote! Toolkit.

You may remember the good old days when the Project Vote! Training took 3 days.  Now the Toolkit is on the www.govoter.orgwebsite and can be edited for each state’s specific voting requirements.  It’s better than ever.

How will it work? Teams will include:  State P&A and Self Advocacy Group staff and officers.  They will meet together for 3 on-line internet training sessions.

      In February 2014 the 3 selected states will participate in 3 internet sessions:

1.) Review of this project’s goals and objectives, current working relationships of state P&A and Self Advocacy group, roles and responsibilities of invited groups.

2.) Learn how to use the flexible options of the Toolkit to personalize the training for your state.

3.) How to have a training event (between March 1 – July 31, 2014) and evaluate it.  Project Vote! team will provide the 3 states our contact information for comments, questions or any supports.

      After the training in each state, the Project Vote! team will look at the impact on voting to:

     How P&As and self advocacy groups will support voters with cognitive disabilities register to vote,


     Increase the number of voters with disabilities voting,


     Increase the number of voters with disabilities in their state to have a positive voting experience,


     Cast a private and independent ballotat accessible polling locations,

     Be aware that there are accessible voting systems and technologies available for voters.

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Testimony to the Presidential Commission on Electoral Administration

Duke Energy Convention Center, Cincinnati, OH

September 20, 2013


Hello.  My name is Diana Mairose from Cincinnati, OH.  I work at the Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services as an advocate for people with disabilities.  I have been a faithful voter since 2000.

For the 2012 Election I worked with the national self advocacy organization for people with developmental disabilities, Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, to interview people with disabilities about their voting experience.  What we learned from voters was that “having a disability is not the problem with voting, it is having the accessible equipment, accessible locations, and the respect to do so!”

Best practices for voters with a disability should be the same as any other voter in the country. 

Let’s begin with “accessible equipment”; it would become “universal equipment”.  All voters across the United States would use same type of equipment that every voter in the country would use at the voting precinct.  Why?

·       Poll workers would be able to easily support voters because only one type of equipment would be used.  Right now many of the poll workers do not know how to use the accessible equipment.

·       Voters who require “accessible equipment” would not have to be singled out and taken to a “special area” to use piece of equipment that even most poll workers do not know how to use.

·       Most universal changes such as in housing, work places, etc. have benefited people with and without disabilities.

·       Therefore, the best practice I recommend is to use the Prime III voting system developed by Clemson University.  I have used this system and I love it!  It is easier to read and understand.

Secondly, there are accessible voting locations scattered all over the country but there are just not enough of them. Here in Hamilton County we have worked closely with Amy Searcy, Director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, to make sure voting locations meet the Department of Justice regulations for accessibility.

·       When a voting location is identified it must meet the accessibility standards outlined by the Department of Justice.

·       Existing locations should be brought up to meet these standards as stated in Help America Vote Act.

·       In my opinion, if a location is not 100% accessible and in the process of improvement, voters should be told where the accessible entrance locations might be, parking, etc. when they arrive at the voting location.

·       Therefore, the best practice I recommend is to have a worker outside the location who can direct/assist voters who require additional and/or different supports to make sure that their experience is a positive one.  These workers would be paid and work 3-4 hour shifts unlike the poll workers who work the entire day.

Most poll workers respect and care about the voting experiences of all voters but there are some who are not comfortable, thus seem disrespectful to the voter, when assisting a voter with a disability to vote.

·       Poll worker training must be reviewed to insure that all poll workers receive at least “one hour” of training on how to effectively work with voters who have any disability.

·       The training should be done by people with disabilities and include role playing and hands on use of the accessible equipment. 

·       Therefore the best practice I recommend is that every precinct has an assigned poll worker to assist people using accessible equipment.  This would not be needed if the same type of equipment is used by everyone, thus being a more effective use of funding.

In summary, why make voting different for different people.  Why not make voting the same for every citizen.  In this way, we could answer my opening statement, “having a disability is not the problem with voting, it is having the accessible equipment, accessible locations, and the respect to do so!”

Thank you for your time and giving me the opportunity to speak to you today.

Diana Lynn Mairose
3827 Paxton Avenue, Apt. 231

Diana Mairose from Ohio speaking at a podium.

Cincinnati, Oh 45209
(513) 884-4016




What People with Disabilities Said About Their 2012 Voting Experience

Text Box: A voter who was non-verbal and had a physical disability had his “right to vote” questioned by a poll worker because of his disability.SABE’s Project Vote Team interviewed 164 self advocates using an Interview Checklist from six states (Ohio, Georgia, Arizona, Oklahoma, Illinois, and Colorado) about their voting experience last November. The purpose of the interviews was to determine, from the voter’s perspective, if they were able to cast a private and independent ballot on Election Day. Information from the Checklist was gathered three ways: 1) at polling locations on Election Day; 2) locations where large groups of people with disabilities gather; and 3) by telephone interviews. The interviews were conducted by people with disabilities matched with a community volunteer of their choice. All interviewers were trained on how to use the Checklist.

Highlights of what the voters interviewed told us were:
  • 12% of the voters said they had problems entering the polling location.
  • 7% of the voters said they did not have enough space to get around the voting room to register and use the voting equipment.
  • 6% of the voters reported a lack of privacy when voting
  • 8% of the voters considered the poll workers not helpful
  • 10% of the voters were first time voters and 83% had voted in the past
Some voter’s comments were:
    li>The poll worker told a voter he could not have an assistant help him vote because he did not look like had a disability (IL).

  • Voter asked to use accessible equipment to vote independently but the poll worker said no, he had a person with him, they can help him vote without using the equipment (OK).
  • Voters had to go over curbs or make a long detour to enter the building (GA).
  • The “ballot scanners” were blocked so people using a wheelchair could not scan their own ballots to secure the privacy of their vote (OH).

·        Every state reported that none of the voting booths were placed lower so a person using a wheelchair could vote using them.

The complete Post 2012 Election Day Report with the findings can be found on the website. The SABE Vote Team summarizes what they learned as: “having a disability is not the problem with voting, it is having the accessible equipment, accessible locations, and the respect to do so!”

Assisting the SABE Project Vote Team and volunteers, were representatives from each state’s P&A to help collect information and answer any Election Day questions, and the Cincinnati UCEDD trainees compiled the information gathered.  SABE would like to thank all of the volunteers who interviewed voters, voters who so graciously agreed to be interviewed, the P&As for answering important questions and the Cincinnati UCEDD trainers for compiling the data but also for making recommendations for when you use the Interview Checklist again.


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Watch our public service announcement about voting

Picture of Jeff RidgewayMY VOTEby Jeff Ridgeway

They say I can’t vote

They say the decision is not mine

They say I don’t understand

I guess they think they’re being kind

I wonder what they would say or think if they only knew

That when they call the President “Our President”,

I want to Call him mine too.

If I never get the chance to Vote –

Pulling the lever, punching the card, or writing the name down.

I stay the same – dumb, misinformed, unchanged, unempowered.

That is what this world expects me to be.

But I want so much more

I want to be the most educated – the most informed – the most totally changed – the most totally empowered person that I can be when I vote.

I can make a difference and then I can say with pride,

“Not Yours,

not theirs,

but My President

because I helped put him there.”