Justice Department Monitoring Disability Access At Polls
Federal officials are fanning out across the country on Election Day to ensure that voters — including those with disabilities — don’t encounter barriers to casting their ballots.
The U.S. Department of Justice is sending election monitors to polling places in 18 states Tuesday.
“These officials will gather information on numerous aspects of local election procedures, including whether voters are treated differently depending on their race or color; whether jurisdictions are adequately serving individuals with disabilities; whether jurisdictions are complying with the provisional ballot requirements of the Help America Vote Act; and whether jurisdictions are complying with the Voting Rights Act’s requirement to provide bilingual election materials and assistance in areas of need,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video message.
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Among their tasks will be assessing whether “jurisdictions allow voters with disabilities to cast a private and independent ballot,” the Justice Department said. Specifically, monitors will be looking to see if accessible voting machines are available and if people with disabilities who need assistance at the polls are able to obtain it from the person of their choice.
Despite federal protections, a report from the National Council on Disability found that 1 in 5 voters with disabilities were prevented from casting their ballot independently during the 2012 election. What’s more, more than half said they faced barriers including rude or condescending attitudes from election workers at their polling place.
Individuals who believe that their voting rights have been violated can file a complaint with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division online or by calling 800-253-3931.
For Tuesday’s election, federal monitors are expected to be on the ground in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.