Same ol', same ol'
Despite Laws, Disabled Voters Face Barriers at Polls ran the headline in The NewStandard.
Why am I not surprised?
From the story:
People with disabilities and their advocates, a state attorney general, and the Department of Justice have filed numerous lawsuits, including in California, New York, Arizona and Alabama, alleging violations of the disability access provisions of the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The Act requires states to provide at least one voting machine accessible to voters with disabilities in each polling place by January 1, 2006 and provides funds to improve access at polling stations.
Right. And it's often just being ignored.
What's going on in Westchester County, NY, is a good example. Last week, the head of the Westchester Center for Independent Living criticized the Westchester County Board of Legislators for considering a resolution supporting the county's continued use of lever-style voting machines.
The resolution, introduced by Legislator Thomas Abinanti, D-Greenburgh, calls on Westchester to join Suffolk County in suing the state Board of Elections for the right to continue using the lever machines, described as "reliable, user-friendly and cost-effective." (Story is no longer available online.)
User-friendly? To everyone but people who are blind or who can't pull levers.
This kind of stuff is going on all over the country.
Because of the furor over fraud potentials of electronic voting (see our story written this time last year), what could have become an accessible, inclusive act of citizenship -- voting -- is shaping up to get stuck in that perennial solution of "special for the handicapped": Rather than communities updating their voting systems with electronic systems (yes, yes, with paper trails!!) they opt to stick with old-fashioned voting and one new machine -- special -- at each polling site. This piece from the Santa Cruz Sentinel tells a story that's being repeated in towns nationwide.
And Santa Cruz may even be better than most. A story out Monday from the Boston Globe reports that at least two-thirds of Massachusetts' 1,700 polling places "will not have voting machines to accommodate the disabled on Election Day, according to the secretary of state's office." (Read State Lags on Voting Machines for Disabled from the civilrights.org website.)
And do read
Politicizing Accessible -- uh, Electronic -- Voting. Comment there or here -- but do comment!