SOURCE: Equip for Equality

Equip for Equality

September 17, 2015 17:42 ET

Big Win in Voting Rights for People With Disabilities in IL

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - September 17, 2015) - In November of 2014, two voters with disabilities living in Bureau County, IL had undue difficulty casting their votes. The problems faced by each voter were direct violations of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which requires that polling locations are accessible to individuals with disabilities in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy) as for other voters. HAVA also requires each state have an administrative complaint process for voters with complaints of violations of HAVA.

Each voter wanted to use an electronic voting machine. At one polling location, the election judges could not find a card needed to activate the machine. At the other, the machine had been placed in a location that offered no privacy. The staff at each of their polling locations lacked both experience and knowledge to adequately help them.

Working with Equip for Equality (EFE), the two voters filed complaints for the violations. In a settlement agreement signed by both parties and approved by the State Board of Elections, the Bureau County clerk committed to steps that would ensure the accessibility of future elections there, including:

  • designate time at each federal election judge training for the Illinois Valley Center for Independent Living to provide disability training;
  • create diagrams showing the proper placement of the electronic voting machine in each polling place to afford accessibility and privacy;
  • designate one election judge in each polling place to respond to issues relating to accessibility;
  • provide information to assist in the recruitment of people with disabilities as election judges;
  • when requested meet with the Illinois Valley CIL following any federal election to discuss any issues that arise.

While EFE has been educating voters about the availability of this administrative process since 2004, this is the first case in which a complaint has been filed.

Equip for Equality, Inc. is an independent not-for-profit organization designated by the Governor to administer the federal protection and advocacy system for children and adults in Illinois with disabilities. EFE’s mission is to advance the human and civil rights of people with disabilities and is accomplished through self-advocacy technical assistance and training, legal services, and public policy initiatives.

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