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How SD is Helping People with Disabilities Get Out to Vote

As part of National Disability Voter Registration Week, South Dakota election officials are being encouraged to make sure polling places can accommodate people with disabilities ahead of the November election. (iStockphoto)
As part of National Disability Voter Registration Week, South Dakota election officials are being encouraged to make sure polling places can accommodate people with disabilities ahead of the November election. (iStockphoto)
July 14, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. – More than 108,000 South Dakotans are living with a disability, and this week the focus is on making sure they get a chance to vote.

It's National Disability Voter Registration Week, and Tim Neyhart, executive director of South Dakota Advocacy Services, says his organization is trying to make sure polling places are set up so all South Dakotans can access the ballot box.

He says the key word here is equal access.

"People with disabilities, including people with mobility impairments, should be able to travel from their transportation, down the sidewalk, through the door, into the polling place and access the booth with the same level of ease that a person who does not has have a disability," Neyhart states.

State and federal protections are in place to make sure that happens. Neyhart says if anyone does notice accessibility problems at polling places call the Secretary of State's office.

For the election officials who are setting up polling places for the coming election, Neyhart is urging them to think ahead.

"Just because the polling place has been at a local church for 40 years doesn't mean that it's accessible,” he points out. “And so, they really need to think about what accessibility means.

“They need to make sure that their path of travel clear and that the polling place is big enough that people can maneuver around the tables."

Neyhart notes that individuals with a disability also can vote by absentee ballot in South Dakota. To do that, an application must be mailed to a county election official by 5 p.m. the day before the election.





Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - SD