Wisconsin report on disability barriers for voting comes too late. Everyday disability barriers such as stairs without a ramp or elevator access are becoming things of the past. With every changing requirement for ADA compliance, many businesses struggle to keep up, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty available with complete disability access. So why are voting centers in areas where it may be impossible for disable people even to enter the building?
From the 2015 audit of polling centers, Wisconsin found that in 808 polling locations, there were over 4,000 accessibility violations or obstacles. This means that nearly every polling location has some disability barrier, if not multiple barriers. The 2015 audit was the most recently conducted audit because the state failed to perform the required audit in 2017.
Obstacles that were commonly included no-wheelchair accessibility, heavy doors, and no privacy for disabled persons when casting their votes. These are basic rights for American voters, and the disabled people of Wisconsin are essentially being pushed out of the polling centers.
A survey of voters who had disabilities that ran nationally exposed polling officials who require people to voice their names, an obstacle for those with hearing disabilities. Similarly, there were not devices available or polling centers that had materials for the blind or deaf voters who were registered and zoned for that polling location.
Wisconsin is now working to ensure that there are options available for voters in Wisconsin to access any equipm ent they need to accommodate impairments. They are also advocating for people not being required to “speak” their names but acknowledge it through documentation and confirmation through sign or an advocate speaking on their behalf.
These solutions for equipment and disabled support don’t address the physical barriers that may prevent voters from being able to cast their ballots.
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