Disabled Voters Now Have A Sidewalk to Get to Pierce County Elections Center

Sidewalk under construction

Monday, March 9th, Rooted in Rights will hold a press event to celebrate the new sidewalk connecting the Pierce County Election Center to the Pierce County Transit Route 57 bus stop, and highlight the need for the missing sidewalk connection to the Route 3 stop. 

“These improvements are critical to ensure that people with disabilities can safely access the Pierce County Election Center, a public building that has accessible voting equipment that allows people with disabilities to vote freely and privately,” said Blake Geyen in a video that shows him navigating the heavily trafficked streets directly surrounding the elections center prior to the building of the new sidewalk.

Some voters with disabilities cannot vote privately via paper ballot, and rely on the accessible voting machines at the election centers in order to cast their ballots. 

The lack of accessible sidewalks presented in Blake’s video has been a long-standing problem for voters with disabilities in Pierce County. In 2010, Disability Rights Washington reported the missing sidewalks in our 2010 Election Accessibility Report.

Blake’s video has over 16,000 views on Twitter and was featured in The News Tribune this past November. After the attention from the video, the City of Tacoma paved a new sidewalk to connect the Pierce County 57 bus stop to the Elections Center. This is the first election disabled voters will be able to use this new access point. 

“There is nothing more effective for advancing public policy than an authentic story of personal impact,” said Julie Anderson, Pierce County Auditor. “As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.” 

Downtown On the Go (DOTG), Tacoma’s transportation advocacy organization, is thrilled to support Rooted in Rights in their advocacy work here in Tacoma. Kristina Walker, executive director of DOTG,  said “Rooted in Rights is an incredible resource and we can all learn from them. I look forward to continued partnership and Rooted in Rights influencing additional safety on our streets for people with disabilities in Tacoma and Pierce County.”

“We must do everything we can to make sure everyone has the opportunity to vote – especially for those of us who are transit dependent,” said Anna Zivarts, Rooted in Rights Program Director. “There are real consequences to not having our votes count and having the transit services we rely on get cut or underfunded.” 

Anna Zivarts is the program director of Rooted in Rights and a low-vision mom who can't drive. She joined the Rooted in Rights team from Time of Day Media, a digital media cooperative she co-founded in 2010. At Time of Day, Anna produced digital video for the Innocence Project and Fight for 15, and lead searches for the ACLU in Kansas and Wisconsin to find citizens disenfranchised by voter ID laws. Twitter: @AnnaZivarts