8 out of 10 polling sites have access barriers, says GAO report
WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2001 -- A General Accounting Office report on access to polling places by voters with disabilities shows that
"I am outraged by the results of this report," said U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) in a press conference Thursday. The report, "Voters With Disabilities: Access to Polling Places and Alternative Voting Methods" (GAO-02-107) had been requested by Sens. Harkin, John McCain (R-AZ) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY). "On the heels of press reports that African American voters disproportionately cast ballots that were not counted in Florida, this study indicates that not only are there votes that aren't counted, but there are many disabled Americans who can't even cast their ballot because they are physically impeded.
Our nation desperately needs to take immediate steps to ensure that all eligible Americans -- including disabled Americans -- can vote and that all votes are counted," said Harkin. "If there are Americans that cannot exercise their right to vote -- their most basic right as citizens of our nation -- we have failed to guarantee the privileges and responsibilities of democracy that they deserve.
From the report:
"As Congress considers voting reform, it is critical that we include accessibility for disabled Americans. America is a nation built on every citizen's right to vote, we must take care to ensure that no one is turned away from a polling place because of physical limitations," said Harkin.
Kay Schriner and Douglas Kruse have conducted a number of studies about voting access and persons with disabilities.
Kay Schriner, Ph.D., Department of Political Science
The Trace R&D Center was formed in 1971 to address the communication needs of people who are nonspeaking and have severe disabilities. Its director is Gregg Vanderheiden.
Trace Research and Development Center
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The Project on Disability Politics at the University of Arkansas looks at political participation of people with disabilities, voting rights laws affecting people with disabilities and disability in American campaigns and elections.