electionlineWeekly

EAC hosts public hearing on accessibility
Equipment is there, but obstacles remain for voters with disabilities

By Dan Seligson

It has been 14 years since the implementation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). It has been almost that long since election officials across the country have worked to implement (and in many cases, replaced and re-implemented), new voting machines, polling place procedures and improved access to polling sites.

Yet, at a public hearing in Boston last week, it became clear that while HAVA has succeeded in many ways – including the mandatory addition of polling place machines that allow voters with a variety of disabilities to vote independently and with confidence that their vote counted – the experience of voting has lagged behind the vision laid out by HAVA.

“One in five Americans have a disability,” said U.S. Election Assistance Commission member Thomas Hicks, leading his first meeting as Chair of the commission. “Their voting rights must be honored as vehemently as all others.

Testimony from voters with disabilities from around the country, particularly those with visual disabilities, share a theme: machines that do the job, but many hurdles to clear before getting to use a reliable machine operated by a well-trained, empathetic poll worker. Read More…