Monday, October 27, 2008

AAPD presses Florida to allow federal inspection of voter accessibility

From an AAPD press release:

WASHINGTON, DC – Oct. 21, 2008 – The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the largest cross-disability membership organization in the U.S., is calling upon Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning and Gov. Charlie Crist to allow federal inspectors into polling places in four counties to survey voting accessibility on Election Day.

Florida is the only state - of 30 in the country picked to participate in the survey - that refuses to let the federal inspectors into polling places on Election Day. Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are the four counties selected by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which is conducting the survey, but Browning has said inspectors would not be allowed in to check equipment and document polling place accessibility.

“In a state with such a high senior citizen population and high population of people with disabilities, it’s outrageous that the Secretary of State refuses to let people in to measure accessibility. What’s he got to hide?” said Jim Dickson, Vice President for Government Affairs at AAPD.

AAPD, which helped organize the effort to initiate the survey as part of a broad coalition, sees the survey as necessary to collect data that will in turn help the nation come up with good voting practices, Dickson said.

The survey has three objectives: to measure the wheelchair accessibility of polling places and compare those results to a similar survey done in 2000; to get objective data on voting machine accessibility and the training of poll workers on those machines; and to make sure proper procedures are in place for assisting senior citizens and people with intellectual disabilities if they need assistance voting.

AAPD also commends Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT); Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) )for initiating the survey, as well as Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who called on Gov. Charlie Crist in an Oct. 17 letter to allow inspectors into polling places.