Voters with disabilities still face significant barriers in federal elections, according to a recent report released by the National Council on Disability. Just getting access to the polling place was an issue with nearly 40 percent of respondents finding various architectural or physical barriers. Voting systems were another problematic area with 45 percent of people reporting barriers involving voting machines.
The 2002 Help America Vote Act, which mandated the right of people with disabilities to vote independently, was supposed to significantly improve the voting process. However, a little over a decade after its passage, 20 percent of voters reported they couldn’t independently cast a private ballot.
“The report does not surprise me,” says Vicki Jurney-Taylor, director of Roll the Vote. “The reason for this is that funding and training, which are so instrumental in eliminating barriers, have not been provided. In many cases, training election officials on how to accommodate voters with disabilities would solve many problems. Also, increasing the amount of money that each county has to improve technology and ensuring that every polling place is accessible would eliminate even more barriers.”
To read the report in its entirety, visit www.ncd.gov.