Nov. 4, 2003 -- In St Paul, MN today, volunteers are checking the polls for access for disabled voters. ""You lose a lot when you have to rely on two election judges or someone you drag to the polls with you to help you vote," Margot Imdieke Cross, the accessibility specialist for the Minnesota State Council on Disability, told reporters at a press conference yesterday. The group was announcing programs that will increase voting access for disabled Minnesotans (Read story from St Paul Pioneer Press.)
A few weeks ago, the American Association of People with Disabilities awarded Maryland's Election Director, Linda Lamone, the Accessible Voting/Justice For All award, saying that Maryland "is leading the nation in accessible voting." While Rhode Island was the first state to make all of its polling places wheelchair accessible and Georgia was the first state to offer an accessible voting machine in every polling place, said the AAPD's Jim Dickson, "Maryland is on track to be the first state in the nation to have all of its polling places accessible and to have accessible voting machines in each polling place." (Read article from PR Newswire.)
However, things would be better if the new federal Election Assistance Commission, promised in the wake of the 2000 presidential election snafus, would ever be appointed. "The public at large and people with disabilities have an expectation that in next year's elections we're going to be voting on modern, accurate and accessible equipment -- and the delays in creating the commission means that's impossible," Dickson told said in an interview." (Read St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Karen Branch-Brioso's Oct. 29 story, "Election reform: 'We're not ready'".
Dade City, FL plans to use fees collected from people who illegally park in handicapped parking spots to improve access at polling places the county rents from private organizations. (Read story in the Oct. 18 St. Petersburg/Pasco Times. And Dickson reports that The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is funding two disability vote projects -- in Oregon and Missouri (information on grants process at http://www.nccbuscc.org/cchd/grant.htm)