News from Northwest ADA Center – Idaho
Make the disability vote count!
The Northwest ADA Center-Idaho wants to encourage each and everyone of you to get out and vote on Election Day. Let’s REV UP THE DISABILITY VOTE In Idaho! USE YOUR POWER BY VOTING! In the words of Justin Dart, Vote Like Your Life Depends On It! Because it Does!
Idahoans will cast their ballots in a variety of facilities that temporarily serve as polling places, such as libraries, schools, fire stations, churches, stores, and other buildings. The ADA requires that public entities ensure that people with disabilities can access and use their voting facilities. The ADA’s regulations and the ADA Standards for Accessible Design set out what makes a facility accessible and should be used to determine the level of accessibility at any facility being considered for use as a polling place. All community polling places should be accessible and should have a ballot-marking device.
The Justice Department’s ADA Checklist for Polling Places provides guidance to election officials for determining whether a polling place already has the basic accessibility features needed by most voters with disabilities or can be made accessible using temporary solutions. (See resource list for link to DOJ checklist).
Providing Accessible Voting Systems
Your polling place should have a ballot-marking device – Ask To Use It – whether you need to or not. This will help to insure that the devices are in working order and that the poll workers know how to use them.
HAVA requires jurisdictions conducting federal elections to have a voting system (such as the actual voting machines) that is accessible, including to citizens who are blind or visually impaired, at each polling place. The accessible voting system must provide the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence, that other voters enjoy.
Ensuring Policies and Procedures Do Not Discriminate Against People With Disabilities
Public entities must ensure that they do not have policies, procedures, or practices in place that interfere with or prohibit persons with certain disabilities from registering to vote or voting based on their disability. For example, an election official cannot refuse to provide an absentee ballot or voter registration form to a person with a disability because the official knows the voter resides in a nursing home or other institutional setting.
In addition, the ADA requires public entities to modify their voting policies, practices, and procedures when such modifications are necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of a voter’s disability. For example, voters who use crutches may have difficulty waiting in a long line to vote. The ADA does not require that these voters be moved to the front of the line, but the public entity should provide a chair for them while they wait.
Similarly, election officials must modify a “no animals/pets” policy to allow voters with disabilities to be accompanied by their service dogs in all areas of the polling place where the public is allowed to go. Additionally, if a jurisdiction requires voters to provide identification, the ADA requires that election officials not restrict the permissible forms of identification from voters with disabilities to ones that are not available to those voters. For example, individuals who are blind or have severe vision loss, are ineligible in many states to receive a driver’s license. Thus, accepting only a driver’s license would unlawfully screen out these voters.
In Idaho you can help insure that every polling place in Idaho is fully accessible by filling out Disability Rights Idaho’s Polling Place Checklist: please go to this link to access the short checklist http://disabilityrightsidaho.org/services/voting/ The purpose of this checklist is to allow you to quickly determine whether a community polling place has barriers for people with disabilities on Election Day.
If you identify significant barriers, immediately contact DisAbility Rights Idaho at 208-336-5353 or toll-free at 866-262-3462. Many barriers can be easily addressed on Election Day*.
idahovotes.gov – Accessible Voting in Idaho http://www.idahovotes.gov/access.shtml
ADA Checklist for Polling Places: This 25-page document recently released by the U.S. Department of Justice (June, 2016) consists of three parts.
Part 1 discusses polling place accessibility with a focus on the areas of a facility that may be used as a polling place on Election Day.
Part 2 includes a list of the tools election officials will need in order to use the Checklist, some helpful tips on taking measurements and photographs, and a useful list of the most common tools for temporary remedies and the circumstances in which they may be used.
In the fall publication of ADA NOW titled, “Providing Accessible Polling Places” includes excellent information to ensure that our voting places are accessible for everyone. This ADA publication is comprehensive and includes some great information and resources that you will want to review. ADA NOW Issue on Voting – ADA Coordinator Training Certification Program (ACTCP) – Great Plains ADA Center please go the following link to access the publication: http://www.adacoordinator.org/news/307905/New-Fall-ADA-NOW-Issue-on-Voting.htm
For more information about ADA Technical Assistance visit the NW ADA Center Idaho website: nwadacenter.org/idaho
Phone: Voice and Text 208-841-9422
Idaho Relay Service: 711