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Voting Problems Widespread For Those With Disabilities

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More than a decade after Congress took steps to ensure equal access for people with disabilities at the polls, a new report finds that legal, physical and attitudinal barriers remain.

During the 2012 election cycle, 1 in 5 voters with disabilities said they were kept from casting their ballot on their own and more than half said they encountered hurdles — including rude or condescending attitudes from election workers — while inside their polling place.

The findings are based on the experiences of nearly 900 people with disabilities who were queried by the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency charged with advising Congress and the president on disability issues.

Overall, the council found that problems were widespread. Nearly 40 percent of voters with disabilities said their polling place was physically inaccessible and almost half indicated that technology was problematic.

The report also found that state laws are increasingly limiting the right to vote for people with disabilities under guardianships and in other circumstances.

The findings come despite provisions in a 2002 law known as the Help America Vote Act that were designed to help Americans with disabilities exercise their right to vote more easily. Specifically, for the first time, that legislation granted individuals with disabilities the right to vote “independently and privately.”

“People with disabilities make up approximately 1 in 5 of our nation’s population and yet 70 percent of polling places are still not accessible,” said Clyde Terry, a member of the National Council on Disability. “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.”

The council is urging better training for election staff, enhanced enforcement of voting and civil rights laws and the adoption of accessible voting equipment, among other steps.

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Comments (9 Responses)

  1. MsAmericanPatriot says:

    I have autism, I vote and have no problem showing my drivers licence as id. If there wasn’t the potential of being exploited as voters there are ways to fix these issues, but the Democrats would see potential ways of exploiting the disabled.

  2. AlWBrown says:

    I’d like to know where all of these numbers came from cause honestly I don’t believe the figures that are being thrown out here. I have been a voter for seven years now, as a legally blind voter. I have never experienced problems/nor have my parents who are visually impaired as well. We have never had negative remarks made to us. True, this could be due to us living in a small community/county. I’d still like to know where these percents/numbers actually came from though.

  3. Whitney says:

    I am not sure it is disability problem perse, Democrats or even a Republican. I actually agreeing MsAmerican Patriot for different reasons I never had a problem voting either. I know both sides of Liberal and Conservative movements used demographics to their advantage. However in my state it is now harder. Meaning even elected officials are having problems to vote this means Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott.

  4. Dadvocate says:

    I’m also throwing the flag on Mr. Terry’s claim. 70%? With most polling places in schools and other public buildings, this assertion needs support. I would like to see the evidence (as would the DOJ I bet). Rude & condescending election judges? How was that measured?

  5. Linda Parr says:

    I voted yesterday, thankfully I do not have a disability but my voting station was in a basement in the Verdun Cultural Center…not very handy for those with disabilities who cannot walk far or manage stairs!

  6. puzzler says:

    I think it’s easier to vote by mail. I would have to a family member or friend take me since I don’t drive. If I could have the option of voting online I would. I challenge the 70% of voting places are inaccessible. I don’t think so. Most places were I live you vote at schools or churches.

  7. Romy Spitz says:

    I am fortunate that my disability, deafness, did not prevent me from voting today. That being said, my voting place was inaccessible for anyone unable to walk long distances and use stairs. And yes, this was at a school. My church would have been much worse for someone with mobility issues. While I would like to know the basis for the numbers, I don’t doubt that some voters with disabilities in some locations, experience barriers to voting. The polling places are not chosen for their accessibility, they are chosen for availability.

  8. Whitney says:

    I am not saying voting is easier in my state for the non-disabled. Heck Texas deserves that lawsuit from DOJ for their voter i.d. Laws. As for the places that can service the disabled by having accessible polling places where I vote is a senior citizen center. I think the available places are key. It is not saying that the Elections officials are oppressing the rights to votes for the disabled or it is a deliberate attempt to do so. The Elected Officials will suppress the rights to vote if you are not white or a male in Texas and this has less to do with discrimination of the disabled but more to do with minorities tend to prefer Democrats at least in Texas they do,

    Texas discriminate against women, Hispanics, and African Americans and other minorities. Whereas voter fraud is less than 1% of the electorate. Yeah there is discrimination but I don’t see it just against the disable.

  9. Peter A. August says:

    It’s rather disappointing that even today many governments have failed to give due recognition to the rights of people with disabilities. Besides, many organisations that ought to be defending those rights, quite often just stand back and do nothing about the violations of those rights.

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