PNS Daily Newscast - April 6, 2020 

More than 3 million Americans have lost employer-based health insurance over the past two weeks; and policy analysts look to keep us healthy and financially stable.

2020Talks - April 6, 2020 

Wisconsin is planning to go ahead with primaries as usual, despite requests for a delay from the Governor, and lawsuits from voting rights advocates. There's also a judicial election, where a liberal judge is challenging the conservative incumbent.

Prioritizing Voting Assistance for Arizonans with Disabilities

Some elections officials choose to close polling places rather than bring them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. (lazyllama/Adobe Stock)
Some elections officials choose to close polling places rather than bring them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. (lazyllama/Adobe Stock)
February 13, 2020

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A new report says polling places in Arizona and elsewhere are too often inaccessible to people with disabilities, despite the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The report from the National Disability Rights Network says when some polling stations are found to be out of ADA compliance, officials simply close them rather than bring them up to standards.

That's an inconvenience at best -- and at worst, can disenfranchise these voters.

J.J. Rico, CEO of the Arizona Center for Disability Law, says a review of some Arizona polling places found that officials had cited ADA noncompliance as a reason for closing them.

"The goal of the report was to highlight some of the inaccessibility that we noted on a visit to Coconino County, and to encourage polling sites, county recorders' offices, to stay abreast of the rules and regulations to make sure things are accessible," Rico states.

The Arizona Secretary of State's office says it doesn't keep records on polling places that have been closed, but provides all counties with a checklist to make sure voting stations are ADA compliant.

Rico says most of the problems the center found were minor and could be easily remedied by election officials.

"In Arizona, we see a lot of little problems, turn-knobs vs. levers, maybe things that need to be moved," he states. "Better signage, bells that could ring if someone needed assistance. A lot of little things, but not an issue where a polling site needs to be completely closed down."

Rico says the mission of his agency is to protect the rights of Arizonans dealing with physical, mental, psychiatric, sensory or cognitive challenges.

"Arizona Center for Disability Law runs a hotline during voting days that someone can call in if they do experience an inaccessible voting location, or they can't gain access to the polling site," he points out. "They can call us at 1-800-927-2260."

For the Presidential Preference Election, Maricopa County officials have increased the number of ballot boxes this year to about 230, up from just 60 during the problem-plagued 2016 election. That vote is set for March 17.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ