Date of Award


Document Status

Open Access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Occupational Therapy (M.S.)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Shaunna Kelder, DrOT, OTRL


Objective: In this study, we sought to investigate and obtain data on the perceived barriers and facilitators that rural Michigan residents with disabilities face throughout the voting process.

Method: We conducted two separate focus groups in two different rural areas of Michigan asking a series of semi-structured questions about the participants’ voting experiences. We obtained recorded interviews, qualitative data, of their answers to these prepared questions.

Results: Physical accessibility was limited by poor lighting for people with low vision problems and a lack of accommodations for those who are not able to stand for a prolonged time while waiting in the long lines. Members of these rural communities show great pride for their sense of community support; however, people with disabilities have to rely heavily on community and family members for transportation to the voting polls. The participants in this study expressed an overall positive attitude towards poll workers, yet some participants were not aware that poll workers are responsible for providing accessible, alternative options for people with disabilities, such as Braille forms and auditory aids. Finally, absentee voting was widely discussed as a major facilitator and the preferred method of voting for most. However, absentee ballots remain problematic to individuals with visual deficits due to font size.

Conclusion: The balance between perceived barriers and facilitators does not appear to perpetuate a negative voting experience among people with disabilities in rural Michigan.

Available for download on Wednesday, July 19, 2023