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It's National Disability Voter Registration Week

Election officials in Indiana are being encouraged to make sure polling places can accommodate people with disabilities before the November election. (in.gov)
Election officials in Indiana are being encouraged to make sure polling places can accommodate people with disabilities before the November election. (in.gov)
July 12, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS – Nearly 19 percent of America's population live with a disability, and this week the focus is making sure they get a chance to vote.

It's National Disability Voter Registration Week. And Dawn Adams, executive director of Indiana Disability Rights, says her organization is trying to make sure polling places are set up so everyone can access the ballot box, and it's better to do it now than to wait until November.

"Every polling site is supposed to be accessible for people who use wheelchairs, for people who may have visual impairments or hearing impairments or just people who have cognitive impairments that may need some assistance filling out the ballot," she stresses.

Adams says Vanderburgh County, one of Indiana's largest, had problems at a couple of polling places during the election last spring, and other counties reported issues as well.

Adams says there are no formal guidelines in place in this country, so counties come up with their own, and not every polling place is compliant with federal law.

"Sadly, every election cycle, there is someone who gets to a polling site and, for whatever reason, the one accessible machine is located on a floor where there is no elevator to get to it so you have to go up the steps or even the accessible machine hasn't been set up because the poll workers just don’t know how to use it," she relates.

Adams says community members can help by calling their local election board or the Secretary of State's office if they notice polling places that aren't set up to accommodate people with disabilities.


Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN