Accommodating every voter: Disability guidelines for polling places

The secretary of state gives boards of elections a checklist from the American Disabilities Act to make sure the polls are accessible for everyone

The boards of elections are required to accommodate voters with disabilities by following guidelines.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Many people are voting on Tuesday, and some of them might need accommodations to do so. With that in mind, are the local boards of elections prepared to deal with voters that have disabilities?

The secretary of state gives boards of elections a checklist from the American Disabilities Act to make sure the polls are accessible for everyone. Each board has to go through it the summer before the election.

“We go out with teams of people to check door sizes, the weight of the doors, slopes of ramps, to make sure that we’re ADA compliant,” said Tom McCabe with the Mahoning County Board of Elections.

That compliance has to extend to all 73 polling locations in Mahoning County.

“We work well with our townships, and churches and other locations that are privately-owned to make sure that they are compliant,” McCabe said.

The county offers the accommodation of curbside voting, which a few voters at Calvary Baptist Church in Boardman made use of on Tuesday.

“Two people will go out, collect the driver’s license, bring it in, get them registered in the front, make sure they are a registered voter, find out what precinct they’re in,” Ramona Davis, presiding judge of Precinct 8, explained. “We get their voting slip, take it out to them and they fill out their vote.”

In Canfield, there are accommodations for those who are sight impaired.

“We do have an automark system available for our visually impaired voters so that it can read the ballot to them with headphone sets,” said Canfield Location Supervisor Daniele Phillips.

Chairs and tables are made readily available to those who need them.

“Especially those with young children to have the tables and chairs available, for multiple people who are voting together,” Phillips said.

Equal access to the polls is also imperative.

“Absolutely every voter that wants to come out and vote should be able to vote to the best of their ability and have access to all the same things that any voter should have,” Phillips said.

However, many people say the polling locations could benefit from more signage on doors and outside about the accommodations they offer.

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