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County Primaries Approach with Impediments to Voting for Some

PHOTO: Another key step toward midterm elections arrives Tuesday, as primary elections are held in 58 of Tennessee's 95 counties. Photo credit: Joel Kramer/Flickr
PHOTO: Another key step toward midterm elections arrives Tuesday, as primary elections are held in 58 of Tennessee's 95 counties. Photo credit: Joel Kramer/Flickr
May 5, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Primary elections are set for tomorrow in many counties across Tennessee, and individuals with disabilities are among those being reminded of the importance of casting a ballot. Melanie Bull with the Tennessee Disability Coalition says voting is one of the best ways to give voice to one's views, both individually and collectively.

"It's important that everyone votes. It's our most basic right as a citizen. As a voting block, I think it's especially important for people with disabilities to get out and make sure their voices are heard," Bull says.

Unfortunately, she adds, people with disabilities vote at a lower rate than the population as a whole, and that is partly due to impediments at polling places.

"If you're in a more rural area, it's harder to find a polling place that is 100-percent ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant," she says. "You are bound by geography in those circumstances. Also, transportation continues to be an issue for people with disabilities."

In addition to increasing accessibility, Bull says another focus of the Tennessee Disability Coalition is making sure that poll workers are appropriately trained.

"It's all about making sure that we ask if someone needs accommodations - ask every single voter, because a disability may not always be visible. And making sure that the poll worker is kind and helpful and successfully wants to see the outcome of someone voting," she adds.

Primaries will be held Tuesday in about two-thirds of Tennessee counties. For the midterm elections this fall, among the races that Tennessee voters will decide are those for governor and U.S. Senate, along with all nine U.S. Representatives.

Tennessee election information is at http://1.usa.gov. Information about the ADA and polling places is at http://1.usa.gov/1udduaN.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN