October 3, 2018
The REV UP Campaign of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) opposes closing polling places because they are not “ADA accessible.” The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been the law of this nation since 1990. By now, every polling place should be accessible to all voters with disabilities and have poll workers trained to facilitate use of the accessible voting machines.
Recently in Georgia, a consultant with Randolph County recommend closing 7 of 9 polling places because they were not in compliance with the ADA. The outcry of many disability and civil rights organizations led the county board to reject this recommendation. Georgia and all other states have had 28 years to make voting accessible to all citizens with disabilities. The proposed closures prior to the November 2018 midterm elections were nothing more than an attempt at voter suppression of marginalized voters. Using the ADA to suppress voters is antithetical to the law’s intent of access for all – no group of voters should be excluded at the expense of another.
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) passed in 2002, specifically sets accessibility standards for polling places and provided grants to help states assess the accessibility of their polling places and implement corrective action plans to make polling places accessible in time for the next federal election. It has been 16 years since HAVA was passed.
Regrettably, many polling places still do not follow the law and remain inaccessible. We urge advocates in each state to work with their state and local election officials to address access barriers and ensure that every disabled voter can cast their vote. The proper solution to an inaccessible polling place is not to close it, but follow the law and work to make it accessible. If a particular polling site cannot be made accessible in time for the election, an accessible alternative within the designated precinct boundaries must be offered.
There is good news! A recent study by the Austin Community College (ACC) Center for Public Policy and Political Studies verifies a growing disability vote. Texans with disabilities voted in higher rates than their non-disabled counterparts in the 2016 and 2014 elections.
Voter suppression targeting marginalized voters is a threat in many states across the nation. As a nonpartisan initiative, the REV UP Campaign firmly believes that all voters should register, educate themselves on the candidates and issues, and use their power and right to vote.
In Georgia, the power of people rising up helped stop voter suppression from happening. We need to keep up the fight and use the power of the DISABILITY VOTE to make a real difference.
The REV UP Campaign, launched by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) in 2016, is a nonpartisan initiative that coordinates with national, state, and local disability organizations to increase the political participation of the disability community while also engaging candidates and the media on disability issues. The Campaign focuses on voter registration, education, access, and engagement. REV UP stands for Register! Educate! Vote! Use your Power!