Accessible Polling Places?
Posted on May 30, 2012 by Willie Kimbrough, Jr., ADA Specialist
Hello once again fellow advocates! Since my last blog the new regulations for the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design went into compliance. Learning the new regulations, however, will take some time and the best way to learn them is by using them in surveys of different places of public accommodations like stores, restaurants, or maybe even polling places.
This year the Community Advocates were asked to check on the accessibility of some of the polling places in St Louis County to see how compliant they were. While many polling places are accessible, we were shocked with some of our findings. There were two locations that stood out in particular. One location was a learning center that had been closed for years. When we arrived it looked abandoned and condemned. The parking lot was flooded with potholes and there wasn’t a single accessible entrance, and there is no hope of even making them accessible.
The second location fared better, but we received some interesting responses to our questions. This place was a church parish center with a nice size area that was very accessible. However, this was not the area they were going to use as a polling place. The area they were using was inaccessible. Once you entered the building you either had to go up or down a flight of steps to access the rest of the building. When we asked why they did not use the accessible area, we were told that they did not want their floor to get scratched or marked up. We try to work with places of public accommodation to improve accessibility, so we suggested that they use some of the floor mats that they had all over the building to protect the floor so they could use the space as an accessible polling place.
So advocates, since this is a presidential election year go and check out your polling place to see if it is accessible. Let me know how it is, and if you need some assistance please feel free to give me a call at 314-289-4334. I’ll be more than happy to help. Hope to her from you soon.