Eleven years after the passage of the Help America Vote Act, barriers to people with disabilities continue to plague polling sites nationwide.
The findings come from a new report released October 24, from the National Council on Disability and the National Disability Rights Network. The report surveyed 900 people with disabilities who participated in the 2012 election.
Of this population, 40 percent reported physical barriers at voting stations, such as inaccessible parking, doors without automatic openers and ramps that were either too steep or nonexistent. In addition, 45 percent of the voters encountered barriers in the voting machines, such as technology that was inaccessible to people who are blind.
Congress passed HAVA in 2002, in response to the 2000 election fiasco. Building on the Americans with Disabilities Act, the law mandated minimum accessibility standards at voting stations, as well as well as a requirement that citizens with disabilities be able to vote independently and privately. It also established the Protection and Advocacy for Voting Access Program.
“People with disabilities make up approximately 1 in 5 of our nation’s population, and yet 70% of polling places are still not accessible,” said Clyde Terry, chair of NCD’s Policy Development & Program Evaluation Committee, in a news release. “A decade after the Help America Vote Act was signed into law meaningful action by election officials to guarantee the most fundamental right of all Americans – including those with disabilities – is not only warranted, it is long past overdue.”
Disability Rights Washington, which operates this Galaxy Website, is part of the federally funded protection and advocacy system and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.