Friday, November 02, 2012

Waterstone on Voting Accessibility

Michael Waterstone has this interesting blog post on disability and voting.  An excerpt:
Although the situation has improved, there are still real concerns about the voting rights of people with disabilities in this election. In a 2000 Report, the General Accountancy Office found that 84 percent of polling places had at least one impediment that could deter persons with disabilities from casting their ballot. These barriers -- no ramps, lack of signage directing to an accessible entrance, an obstructed path to the polling place -- might seem trivial to voters without disabilities. But for people with disabilities, it can be the difference between voting and not voting. After increased litigation by advocates for people with disabilities, and passage of the Help America Vote Act, this situation has improved, but only somewhat. In a follow-up report examining the 2008 election, the GAO found that 73 percent of polling places had potential impediments to people with disabilities being able to access the voting areas, but 45 percent offered curbside voting. As I have argued elsewhere, curbside voting is a cheapened version of the voting experience. 
Recent reports indicate this problem has not gone away for this election cycle. In a recent case in New York, plaintiffs alleged that random samplings of New York City polling places revealed widespread inaccessibility, and that disability relevant criteria were not being used for polling place selection and that training for poll workers was inadequate to comply with the law. Plaintiffs prevailed on summary judgment establishing Defendant's liability (disclosure -- I was one of the expert witnesses in this case).



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