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Created by The Arc
Adapted for Larimer County by The Arc of Larimer County
What Is Voting?
Voting is a way for people to make decisions together.
Each person gets a vote.
A vote is a way that people say what they want to do.
Voting is very important in the United States (U.S.). Voting is a way for every adult U.S. citizen to say what we want. If you do not vote, then you do not get a say in what will happen.
In the U.S., we vote on Election Day. Election Day is the day we vote for candidates we want.
Candidates are people who want to represent us in government. Once candidates are elected, they become our elected officials.
Elected officials are people like our President, Senators, Representatives, Governors, Mayors, and council members. Elected officials are how we protect and improve our community.
When we vote, we choose who will represent the disability community. The people we vote for will decide how important programs for people with disabilities work. This includes programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income. This guide will help explain some basic information about voting.
Who Can Vote?
You can register to vote in Colorado if you:
- Are a U.S. citizen.
- Will be 18 years or older by the day of the election.
- Have lived in Colorado for at least 22 days before the election.
- Are not serving a sentence of incarceration for a felony conviction.
Sometimes, people may think that people with disabilities cannot vote. That is not true. People with disabilities can and do vote! This guide tells you more about the rules around voting.
Who Cannot Vote?
- People who live in the U.S. but are not citizens, like permanent residents.
- In some states, people with guardians may not be able to vote. In Colorado, people with guardians can vote.
- Some people who have been convicted of crimes.
If you have been convicted of a crime, check with the Colorado Secretary of State to see if you can vote here (link opens in new tab).
Not Sure If You Can Vote?
Check with the Larimer County Elections Office at:
Online: www.larimer.org/clerk/elections (link opens in new tab)
How Do I Register To Vote?
There are many places where you can register to vote. In Colorado, you can register to vote:
- By Mail
- At a voter registration drive
What information do I need to have to register to vote?
Each state has different rules about what you need to have to register to vote. In Colorado, you can register to vote if you:
- Are a United States Citizen
- Are 16 years old
- In Colorado, you can register to vote after you are 16 years old. You cannot vote until you are 18 years old. To vote, you must be 18 years old or older on election day.
- In Colorado, we have Primary Elections. Primary Elections help decide who will be on your ballot in the General Election. You can vote in a Primary Election if you are 17 years old and will turn 18 years old before the next General Election.
- Are a Colorado resident for at least 22 days before the election.
- Are not serving a sentence of incarceration for a felony conviction
You will need certain documents to register to vote. You can see a list of documents at www.larimer.org/clerk/elections/current-elections/faq (link opens in new tab).
When you register to vote in Colorado, you can choose to join a political party. A political party is a group of people with the same political goals and opinions. A political party works to vote candidates they like into government. You do not have to join a political party if you do not want to.
In the U.S., we have two main political parties. These are Republicans and Democrats.
How do I check if I am registered to vote?
You can check your voter registration status at https://www.sos.state.co.us/voter/pages/pub/olvr/findVoterReg.xhtml (link opens in new tab).
I am already registered to vote, but my address, name, or political party has changed.
You can change your voter information. You will need to submit a new voter registration form. In Colorado, you may be able do this online at https://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/vote/VoterHome.html (link opens in new tab). You can call the Larimer County Elections office if you need help at (970) 498-7820
I have moved to a new state and need to register. What should I do?
You can register to vote in the new state at vote.gov.
I want help to register to vote or check my status. What should I do?
Ask people for help to register to vote or check your voter registration. This could be a direct care worker, your case manager, a family member or friend, or someone else you trust. You can also contact a chapter of The Arc for help.
Where Can I Vote in My Community?
In Colorado, we are a vote by mail state. This means that registered voters are sent a ballot to their mailbox.
In Colorado, you have a few ways you can vote:
- At a polling place. A polling place is a location where you can vote in your community. Polling places are often schools or community centers.
- You can mail your ballot back
- You can drop your ballot off
In Larimer County, your ballot must be received by Larimer County Clerk and Recorder by 7pm on Election Day. A postmark does not count as “received.” If you mail your ballot, you need to mail it early enough for it to be delivered. If you cannot mail your ballot back in time, you can drop it off in person instead.
The Larimer County Clerk and Recorder will list all polling places and ballot drop off locations at https://www.larimer.org/clerk/elections (link opens in a new tab).
If you lose your ballot or make a mistake you can call the Larimer County Clerk and Recorder to ask for a new ballot. Their phone number is (970) 498-7820.
Who Or What Can I Vote On?
Each Election Day, we vote on different elected officials and issues.
We vote for some elected officials or issues every few years.
- We vote for President every four years. The President is a person who we vote on to lead the country.
- We vote for Senators every six years. Senators are people who represent an entire state. Senators serve in the U.S. Senate.
- We vote for Representatives every two years. Representatives are people who represent a part of a state. These people serve in our U.S. House of Representatives. Senators and Representatives are also called Members of Congress.
- We also vote for state representatives, senators, and governors.
- We vote for local representatives like mayors and town council members.
Some issues we only vote on once or when we need to.
These may be issues like:
- How we should spend government money.
- How we should change a law or a state constitution.
- A state constitution is a written document. This document includes rules and values that describe how a state should be run. Sometimes, people call changes to laws or state constitutions amendments. Amendments are changes to an existing law or constitution. Amendments can make small changes or big changes to a law or constitution.
What people vote for also depends on which state, county, or city you live in. You can find out what you can vote on each Election Day early. You can do this by checking with the Larimer County Clerk and Recorder at https://www.larimer.org/clerk/elections (link opens in a new tab).
How Can I Learn About Candidates Or Issues To Vote On?
Once you find out what you can vote on, it is important to make sure to learn about candidates and issues.
You can learn more about candidates and issues in many ways:
- Visit webpages about candidates or issues.
- Visit or follow candidates’ social media pages.
- Read articles or watch local TV stations about candidates or issues.
- Watch or go to debates that candidates have. Debates are when candidates discuss what they want to do and their ideas. They will talk about why their idea is better than the ideas of other candidates.
- Check out how candidates answer questions about important issues. FactCheck.org keeps track of candidates’ statements about issues. FactCheck is nonpartisan. Nonpartisan means that they do not favor one candidate or party over the other. They provide accurate information.
- Attend campaign events like rallies or town hall meetings. These events are ways you can show support and learn more about a candidate in person.
- Contact groups you trust to learn more about candidates and issues that matter to you. Try to contact groups that are nonpartisan and that do not have a bias to one candidate or another.
The information I get about candidates and issues is not clear or is confusing. What should I do?
If the information you get is hard to understand or confusing, you can:
- Contact groups you trust and ask them to explain the issue to you or provide accessible information. Try to contact groups that are nonpartisan.
- Ask a person you trust to explain the differences between candidates or issues to vote on. This person may also share their opinion about which way people should vote. You do not have to vote the way they are voting.
How Does Voting On Election Day Work?
In Colorado, you can vote before Election Day or on Election Day. You can also fill out your ballot at home or at a polling place.
If you choose to vote in person at a polling place, you’ll need to remember a few things:
- Make sure to bring identification. You can view a list of identification that will work here: https://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/vote/acceptableFormsOfID.html (link opens in new tab).
- Make sure you know how to get to your local polling place.
- Bring someone to support you if you want or need help.
- Bring any notes you want to help remember what candidates or issues you want to vote for.
- Do not wear clothing or buttons supporting your candidate or ballot issue to vote. Polling places do not allow people inside if they are wearing political clothing or buttons.
- You may need to wait in line. You may need to wait for a long time, even if the weather is bad.
- Outside the polling place, there may signs for each candidate. People may hand you information or try persuading you to vote one way or another. You can talk to them or not. Either way is okay.
- You do not have to tell anyone who you are voting for.
- Do not ask people who you should vote for.
- In Colorado, you can register to vote at some polling places.
How Do I Vote at My Polling Place?
The polling place will have poll workers. Poll workers are people who help people vote. The poll worker will ask you to confirm your name and address. They may ask to see your photo ID. They will make sure you are registered to vote.
Then, you will be handed a ballot. A ballot is a form that we use to vote. The ballot will list each thing you can vote for. It will ask you to fill in the dot or select the candidate or issue you want to vote for. The ballot may be hard to understand or fill out.
The ballot may be on a screen, or it may be on paper. Voting machines show ballots on a screen. Voting machines can read the ballot to you. Voting machines can also let people who use Braille vote.
You will be given a private space to complete your ballot. You have the right to ask for a private space that is accessible.
You can ask a friend or bring someone you trust with you to help you complete your ballot. They can help you fill out your ballot. They can help you understand what the ballot is saying. They can help you read forms or use the voting machines.
But, other people should not choose who you vote for.
That is your choice!
Once you have finished filling out your ballot, make sure it is counted. You can tell a poll worker that you have finished voting. You can ask the poll workers for help to make sure that your ballot is received.
After you leave your polling place, decide how much you want to share about your vote. No one else has to know how you voted. You can decide how much you want to share with other people. You do not have to share your vote with anyone.
My Voting Rights Have Been Denied. What Should I Do?
Sometimes, people may think that people with disabilities cannot vote. That is not true. People with disabilities can and do vote!
There are some rules about who can vote.
- You must be a U.S. citizen.
- You must be 18 years or older on Election Day.
- You must live in the state where you are registered to vote.
- You must be registered to vote before the state’s deadline. In Colorado, you can register to vote on Election Day.
If you have the right to vote:
- You have the right to have an accessible polling place.
- You have the right to a private, accessible place to complete your ballot.
- You have the right to have someone help you complete and submit your ballot.
If you think your voting rights have been denied, contact these groups.
These groups can help you figure out what to do if your rights are denied.
- Call the voting rights hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683). They have lawyers who can help you. They work year-round to help people to vote. You can call them before Election Day, on Election Day, or afterwards. You can call them with general questions about voting. You can also call them after your rights have been denied. They can also tell you how to make a complaint to your election office.
- Contact your local protection and advocacy organization. These organizations provide legal assistance to people with disabilities. There is one organization for each state and territory. In Colorado, this is Disability Law Colorado. You can find them at https://disabilitylawco.org/ or call them at 303.722.0300 You can call them after your rights have been denied. They can help you make a complaint to your election office or figure out other steps to take.
- Contact the Larimer County Clerk and Recorder at https://www.larimer.org/clerk/elections or 970-498-7820. You can call them after your rights have been denied. They can tell you how to make a complaint if your rights are denied.
- You can also contact many other groups that help people with disabilities. These groups can help you figure out who you need to talk to.
- Groups you may want to talk to are:
- The Arc
- Your case manager or state I/DD agency
- Your local or state independent living center
- Your local or state self-advocacy group
- Groups you may want to talk to are:
How Can I Help Other People Vote?
There are many things that you could do to help other people in your community vote.
- Share information about voting, issues, and candidates with other people that you know.
- Share information about voting with people with disabilities and self-advocate groups in your community.
- Share this Voting Guide you are reading with others in your community.
- Join your local REV UP coalition at aapd.com/building-state-rev-up-disability-voting-coalitions/.
- Reach out to groups in your community who want to help make sure people can vote.
You can ask to volunteer with these organizations and help people vote.
- Reach out to The Arc and other disability community organizations to see what you can do to help others vote.
- Offer to help train people with disabilities about voting.
- Reach out to your state I/DD agency, election office, and disability community groups to help train people.
- Volunteer at polling places or on campaigns.
Getting involved is a great way to make sure polling places are accessible.
Where Can I Learn More About Voting?
There are many resources and groups who want to help people vote. You can always reach out to The Arc if you need help. You can contact us by email at email@example.com. You can also call us on the phone at 1-800-433-5255.
Other voting resources we think are very helpful:
- U.S. Government Vote.gov (link opens in new tab)
- Autistic Self Advocacy Network Your Vote Counts: A Self-Advocate’s Guide to Voting in the US (link opens in new tab)
- Self Advocates Becoming Empowered GoVoter Project (link opens in new tab)
- American Association for People with Disabilities REV UP: Register, Educate, Vote, Use your Power (link opens in new tab)
- League of Women Voters vote411.org (link opens in new tab)