Most Americans believe that voting is their right, like freedom of speech or freedom of religion. But the right to vote doesn’t appear anywhere in the Constitution. Americans have historically faced legal obstacles to voting based on race, property ownership, gender, or age, while others were limited based on procedural confines such as poll taxes and literacy tests. Some of these restrictions were statutory. Others were administrative and further defined by court decisions and opinions. For example, here in Arizona, Native Americans did not get the right to vote until 1948 through a court case challenging a 1928 decision that denied that ability. Regardless of when or how certain groups have won enfranchisement, election administrators, voters, and advocates need to consider how technology can be an empowering force to ensure eligible voters have easy access to the process.
Today, most voters can register and obtain and cast a ballot without problems. But in 2013, and moving forward into the 2014 midterm election cycle and beyond to the 2016 Presidential Election, challenges still face some U.S. voters, including:
* Voters with disabilities. Many succeed in voting only with assistance or with extreme perseverance and determination. In a system that relies heavily on sight, mobility, and fine motor skills, finding a way to break down these barriers is critical for millions of U.S. voters.
* Military and overseas voters. Despite advanced technology, many people still struggle with time and distance in casting an effective ballot.
* Illiterate and non-native English speakers. Literacy and the elevated language used on ballots is an issue for many voters, particularly new citizens and those with limited English proficiency.