On March 7, 2021, the White House released an Executive Order (EO) on Promoting Access to Voting. According to the EO, the purpose is to “to protect and promote the exercise of the right to vote, eliminate discrimination and other barriers to voting, and expand access to voter registration and accurate election information” and “to ensure that registering to vote and the act of voting be made simple and easy for all those eligible to do so.”
Section 7 of the EO states “Ensuring Equal Access for Voters with Disabilities. Within 270 days of the date of this order, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) within the Department of Commerce shall evaluate the steps needed to ensure that the online Federal Voter Registration Form is accessible to people with disabilities. During that period, NIST, in consultation with the Department of Justice, the Election Assistance Commission, and other agencies, as appropriate, shall also analyze barriers to private and independent voting for people with disabilities, including access to voter registration, voting technology, voting by mail, polling locations, and poll worker training. By the end of the 270-day period, NIST shall publish recommendations regarding both the Federal Voter Registration Form and the other barriers it has identified.”
In response to Executive Order 14019, on October 21, 2021, NIST published the Draft Promoting Access to Voting Recommendations for Addressing Barriers to Private and Independent Voting for People with Disabilities. By the close of a 30-day public comment period which ended on November 22, 2021, NIST had received over 300 comments from more than 50 sources.
NIST is now actively considering each comment and the final version of the NIST report will be released after all comments are considered and appropriate reviews are conducted.
Request for Comments [Closed]
NIST has published the draft report, “Promoting Access to Voting: Recommendations for Addressing Barriers to Private and Independent Voting for People with Disabilities.” A Request for Comments for this draft report has been posted in the Federal Register.
In producing the draft report, NIST explored technical and non-technical barriers by analyzing published material identifying barriers, recommendations, best practices, and existing federal guidance and regulations. NIST engaged stakeholders through discussion and responses to the June 16, 2021 Request for Information (RFI) (86 FR 32026) to gain an in-depth understanding of accessibility issues and where technology is a barrier, as well as where technology can serve as a solution. We noted that many of the barriers have already been analyzed and recommendations exist in various forums; NIST analyzed this information in the context of how current and future technology can improve accessibility for voters. The barriers and recommendations presented in this report are a synthesis of the aforementioned resources and inputs. These responses have also been provided to appropriate federal agencies and offices for their consideration.
Request for Information
The June 16, 2021 Request for Information (86 FR 32026) has closed and the comments can be viewed on https://www.regulations.gov/, using "NIST-2021-0003" in the search box, or on the NIST web site: Comments Received for RFI on Promoting Access to Voting.