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The Election

The Disability Vote


Nov. 3: Disabled see absentee ballots rejected Palm Beach Post, Palm Beach, FL
Republicans Charge Institution Employees With Influencing Residents' Votes
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

LUFKIN, TX, NOV. 2, 2004 --Republican officials in Angelina County were angered Tuesday over what they claim were efforts by Lufkin State School employees to influence the votes of institution residents with mental disabilities.

Those employees said they were just helping the residents to exercise their right to vote.

The Lufkin Daily News reported that sheriff's officials were called to a voting precinct because of a confrontation between Dale Ingle, the county's incoming Republican chairman, and institution employees who had transported five residents to the polling place.

Ingle reportedly demanded the employees' names. On Monday, he had questioned whether it was legal for institution residents to vote and for state vans to transport them to the polls.

According to the non-profit agency Advocacy Inc., Texas law allows people to vote unless if they have been deemed incompetent by the courts. Any registered voter with a disability can legally receive help to cast a ballot from a person of their choice, as long as the help is general in nature and does not improperly influence the voter.

Lufkin State School superintendent Randy Spence said that about 30 of the facility's 420 residents were registered to vote.

Republican officials said they became suspicious after unnamed people told them the institution employees were bribing residents with ice cream, and telling them that they would be sent to fight in the war if they voted for President Bush.

"Under the guise of voter assistance, Democrat operatives are trying to manipulate and undermine our open election process," said Republican Party of Texas Chairwoman Tina Benkiser. "Shame on anyone who would abuse and victimize the mentally disabled for pure partisan gain."

Related: "GOP, Democrats trade charges over state school voting" (Lufkin Daily News)


Nov. 2:Many Disabled People Unable To Vote Newsday - New York.

Nov. 1: Polls may not oblige disabled -- Daily Mississippian

Oct. 31: Advocates Encourage, Protect Disabled Voters Washington Post - Washington, DC

Oct. 30: Disabled describe barriers to voting The Register-Guard - Eugene, Oregon

Oct. 30: Early polls set for the disabled Urbana/Champaign News-Gazette

Oct. 29: Voting Machines Allow Unassisted Access At Polls Boone Mountain Times - Boone, NC

Oct. 29:Blind voters to get special machines Hernando Today - Brooksville, FL

Oct. 29: Audio sample ballots help voters with sight impairments Santa Barbara News-Press (subscription) - Santa Barbara, CA

Oct. 28: Polling Places Accessible For The Disabled CBS2 Chicago - Chicago, IL

Oct. 27: Disabled Voters WOAY-TV - Oak Hill, WV

Oct. 27: Disabled voters have options for assistance at polling place Charleston Post Courier (subscription) - Charleston, SC

Oct. 27: Secretary of State encouraging disabled to vote WCAX - Burlington, VT

Oct. 27: Rallying disabled voters News 8 Austin - Austin, TX

Judge Denies Vote to Mentally Ill Man, Associated Press, Oct. 26.A federal judge on Tuesday declined to allow a man living in Jefferson City, MO, to cast a vote in the Nov. 2 election. The man has a court-appointed guardian and is considered "mentally ill.

Rallying Disabled Voters News 8 TV, Austin, TX

Disabled advocates sue for voting rights, The Journal News.com, Westchester, NY

A closer look at electronic voting machines, Roanoke Times

Polling places not accessible to all, TriTown.com, October 21, 2004

Disabled voters not courted, Charlotte Observer

Blind Voters Cast Ballots KRDO, Colorado Springs

Disabled advocates sue for voting rights The Journal News.com, Westchester, NY

Polls still thwart disabled voters Hillsdale (NY) Independent, Oct. 22

Voting initiative targets disabled Chicago Tribune, Oct. 20

More than 1 in 5 disabled people face serious voting problems, says N.O.D.
WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 19, 2004 --Twenty-one percent of U.S. adults with disabilities‹representing more than eight million potential voters‹say they have been unable to vote in presidential or congressional elections due to barriers faced either at, or in getting to, the polls, according to the latest survey from the National Organization on Disability. The findings raise serious issues for the upcoming elections. MORE FROM N.O.D.

Suit Attempts To Toss Out Touch-Screen Voting Systems
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

TRENTON, NJ, Oct. 19, 2004 --A coalition of citizens opposed to electronic touch-screen voting systems filed suit Tuesday asking the state to ban the use of nearly 8,000 such machines in New Jersey before the upcoming general election. The suit was filed in State Superior Court in Trenton, just two weeks before New Jersey voters offer their 15 electoral votes to one of the presidential candidates.

According to the New York Times, the group wants to prohibit the touch-screen systems because they do not provide a printed ballot to verify that votes are recorded properly, and because computer hackers have been known to tamper with results in other states.

The machines are set to be used by more than three million registered voters in 15 of the state's 21 counties.

New Jersey Attorney General, Peter C. Harvey, whose office oversees elections, said there have been no problems with touch-screen systems in past elections in his state. Regarding the possibility of introducing new rules and technologies so close to the election, Harvey said, "You're just asking for trouble."

Electronic touch-screen voting systems are favored by disability groups because they allow blind voters, those who have difficulty reading, and those with disabilities affecting their mobility, to cast a private, secret ballot.

Efforts to prohibit the use of touch-screen systems in other states have failed, so far, the Times noted.

Related: "New Jersey Lawsuit Challenges Electronic Voting" (New York Times)

Elections Official Wants Touch-Screen Ballot "Images" Accepted In Recounts
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

TALLAHASSEE FL, Oct. 13, 2004 --Secretary of State Glenda Hood proposed a new rule Tuesday that would allow paper copies of ballot "images" from electronic touch screen machines to be printed and compared with election results, if needed, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

Under state law, manual recounts are automatically required in close races in which one-quarter of one percent separates the candidates.

Electronic touch-screen voting systems are favored by disability groups, because they allow blind voters, those who have difficulty reading, and those with disabilities affecting their mobility to cast a private, secret ballot.

Some of the systems have been criticized because they do not have a paper print-out that can be used to verify the voters' intention and to show that the machines worked properly.

Hood's proposal would print "ballot images" from what would be stored in the machine's memory. This method was used earlier this year in a Broward County special election.

Related: "State weighs plan to create touch screen ballot copies" (St. Petersburg Times)


New touch-screen voting liberating for the blind Washington Times

New voting machines will aid blind Springfield (IL) State Journal Register

ACCESS TO THE VOTE  . . .WORLDWIDE Oct. 31:USAID gives $34,000 to aid the blind to vote GhanaWeb - Accra, Ghana

Braille sheets come to blind voter's aid Times of India

Braille friendly EVMs introduced in Andhra, India

New Voting Deal for the Blind in Africa from AllAfrica.com

Special Ballot Papers for Visually Impaired AllAfrica.com
Duval County Still Not Ready With Accessible Voting System
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

JACKSONVILLE, FL, Oct. 4, 2004 -- Duval County election officials said Friday they do not have enough time to install voting systems that are accessible to people with certain disabilities before the November 2 General Election.

The statement came in response to a September 28 court order by U.S. District Judge Henry Adams requiring the county to install 57 electronic touch-screen voting machines for voters who have disabilities which affect their mobility, who do not read, or are blind.

According to the Associated Press, Assistant Elections Supervisor Dick Carlberg filed papers Friday saying that the process of ordering and installing the machines, and then training the staff in their use, needed to begin on September 25 -- three days before Adams' order -- in order to be ready in time.

Jacksonville attorneys were preparing a request for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to grant a stay.

Earlier this spring, a federal judge ruled that the county had to make voting machines accessible to voters with disabilities in one-fifth of the county's 295 precincts. That order was stayed while election officials appealed the ruling.

But last month, attorneys representing voters with disabilities asked Adams to lift the stay so they could exercise their right to cast a private ballot in this coming election, noting that the money for the machines had been allocated.

The filing by Duval County election officials comes nearly four years after Florida's election debacle drew the world's attention to the county and its punch card ballot problems. It comes nearly three years after a group of blind voters sued the state and city of Jacksonville for purchasing new optical scan voting machines that cannot be used by voters with such disabilities.

In testimony last fall, Pam Hodge, who is blind, told the court, "Each time I went to vote, I was treated differently than other people. It was humiliating and embarrassing."

The move also comes two years after Congress passed into law the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which called for millions of federal dollars to be given to states to make sure that they have voting procedures and polling places that are accessible to people with disabilities.

In related news, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals last Monday ordered a lower court to hear a lawsuit demanding that the touch-screen machines be made to print paper receipts.

The case was brought earlier this year in two separate suits by U.S. Representative Robert Wexler, who demanded that the machines in 15 counties be redesigned to produce printable records so voters could verify their ballots were recorded properly.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida threw out Wexler's case. The appeals court decision means the district court must now consider the case.

It was unclear whether any decision would come before November 2.

Also last Monday, former President Jimmy Carter predicted that Florida's 2004 presidential election would be as controversial as the one four years ago.

"The disturbing fact is that a repetition of the problems of 2000 now seems likely," Carter wrote in a Washington Post guest editorial. "Some of the state's leading officials hold strong political biases that prevent necessary reforms."

Wexler v. Lepore (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit) [PDF format requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader]
"Still Seeking a Fair Florida Vote" by Jimmy Carter (Washington Post)
"Help America Vote Act of 2002" (Federal Election Commission)

Accessible voting machines to sit unused in Indianapolis warehouses this election $11 million worth of optical scan machines and touch-screen voting machines will sit unused in an Indianapolis warehouse on Election Day, Nov. 2. The software achieved certification from the Indiana Election Commission last week. But the process took too long, said Marion County Clerk Doris Anne Sadler, who said it was too late now to use them this November. MORE.

photo of one man helping another at a table FOCUS
Would you like help in marking your ballot? Imagine that you are blind and are presented with a paper ballot, says JOE HARCZ. That will be the situation come November for far too many of us who are still denied the right to a secret ballot. READ ESSAY.

Waiting -- Again -- for The Vote What happened to the bright promise of fully accessible voting heralded by the Help America Vote Act? In the wake of the League of Women Voters' decision to modify its support for accessible electronic voting, based on members' worries about security, Ragged Edge editor MARY JOHNSON looks at the latest setbacks on the road to fully accessible voting. READ ARTICLE.

Where does John Kerry stand on our right to remain alive? "Give me ten minutes alone with the Democratic candidate," writes Mouth's LUCY GWIN, "and I'd pop the question: Does he support the right of disabled people to remain among the living?" The FL Supreme Court asks whether Gov. Jeb. Bush's effort in "Terri's Law" to protect the life of Terri Schiavo is unconstitutional. The KY Supreme Court says it's OK to "pull the plug" on someone "permanently unconscious." So Gwin's questions for Kerry are definitely not rhetorical. READ ARTICLE.

Election 2000: Voters faced barriers nationwide My polling place is not wheelchair accessible," says Oakland, California resident Denise Sherer Jacobson, author of The Story of David. "During my first years in the neighborhood, I would go to that polling place, rain or shine, and wait to grab someone going in or coming out so they could notify a voting official in my party that I was there." "There's no such thing as a secret ballot when you're voting at a table in the midst of other voters walking all around you, walking to and from their secure voting booths," says Shea Hales of Corpus Christi, Texas. MORE FROM OUR ARCHIVES.


Improving voter accessibility Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Oct. 4, 2004

Despite doubts over e-voting's integrity, disabled are pleased Boston Herald, Oct. 3, 2004

Voting Laws Discriminate Against Mentally Disabled from About Mental Health

Voting gets easier for citizens with disabilities The Eugene (OR) Register-Guard, Oct. 1, 2004

Woman in wheelchair helping ensure Election Day accessibility, Miami Herald

Disabled voters say e-voting makes for better accessibility News 8 Austin

Those with mental retardation push awareness of voting rights Penn Live, PA

Judge Orders Fla. County to Add Touchscreens San Jose Mercury News

Breaking Down Barriers: Making the voting booth accessiblePittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sept. 28, 2004

Voting Machine For Disabled Could Provide Audit Featurefrom Internet Week, Sept. 27, 2004

Access problems still barrier for disabled voters Indianapolis Star, Sept. 27, 2004

Trouble Voting? Call the Hotline, Says AAPD

Our colleagues in the civil rights community have set up a toll-free Election Day hotline," says American Association of People with Disabilities Disability Vote Project Coordinator Angela Katsakis. This hotline is staffed now and, in addition to logging your complaint, the civil rights organizations have law students and attorneys who can provide assistance on Election Day. The hotline number is 866-OUR-VOTE, (866-687-8683).

  • a. If pollworkers refuse to allow you to vote for any reason, call the hotline.
  • b. If the polling place is inaccessible, call the hotline.
  • c. If there is a late opening or early closing of a polling place, call the hotline.
  • d. If your polling place runs out of ballots or has an incorrect ballot, call the hotline.
  • e. If you experience pollworker insensitivity or discrimination in the voting process, call the hotline.

When you call the hotline, be prepared to give your name, telephone number, and note as many details as possible, including the names of the people who are involved."


Kerry-Edwards' Disability Rights Platform

AAPD Campaign 2004 web page

AAPD Campaign 2004 web page

"2004 Presidential Candidates Speak Out on Disability Issues" from the National Organization on Disability website

ADAPT's Candidate Questionnaire

Candidates Respond to Medicare Questionnaire


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