Polling and Voting Places
The mid-term elections are being held this month. Because voting happens every few years, the places where people vote are only temporary. Even though the polling centers are only temporary, they are providing a “government program” which has to be made accessible under Title II of the ADA. When someone votes, the service that the government is providing must be equal and available to everyone, including persons with disabilities. The voter who is disabled must be able to have the same privacy as everyone else. The voter who is disabled must have access to the same ballot and the same method of voting as everyone else. So how does a polling place provide this access?
The ADA website has a pamphlet that they put out in 2004 that explains how to provide access even when the polling place is only temporary. The Election Assistance Commission has a video that is also helpful for polling places to provide access.
In a nutshell, the following items need to be provided to the best of their ability, unless it is not feasible and then other accommodations should be provided to ensure that all voters, disabled or not, can cast their ballot:
1. Accessible parking or passenger drop off should be available
2. An Accessible route to the entrance
3. An accessible entrance to the voting site
4. A route free from hazards
5. Counter or table where the voting is taking place should be between in height and a forward approach knee space should be provided
Everyone should go to their polling places and make sure there are facilities that are accessible for voters in wheelchairs, voters who are visually impaired as well as hearing impaired. Let’s try and make this election an accessible one.