COLUMBIA, SC (December 9, 2013) – On Tuesday, November 5, 2013 Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities Inc. (P&A) and volunteers completed polling place accessibility surveys at 94 percent of the precincts in the City of Columbia, Blythewood, Irmo, Forest Acres, and unincorporated areas of Richland County. The surveys evaluated whether a polling place has basic accessibility features needed by voters with disabilities. As detailed in the P&A report, the major issues impacting voters with disabilities included access to accessible ballots, curbside voting, voting areas, and parking.
Today P&A issues its report (Polling Place Accessibility Survey: Ensuring Access for Voters with Disabilities – Richland County) documenting these problems. The report outlines changes that are needed in the South Carolina voting process to assure that all voters, including voters with disabilities, can exercise the right to vote privately and independently.
“In South Carolina equal access to voting is not provided to many voters with disabilities. This is not just an issue in Richland County. Voters with disabilities statewide face barriers,” said Gloria Prevost, Executive Director of P&A. “The state has a duty to ensure all South Carolinians are provided the opportunity to vote.”
P&A’s Polling Place Accessibility report shows the need to ensure that:
• Poll workers have the training needed to work effectively with all voters, especially people with disabilities.
• Polling places are accessible to all voters, especially people with disabilities – from the parking lot to the voting machines.
• Curbside voting is implemented consistently at all precincts and poll workers are provided adequate training.
• Every precinct has the required number of poll workers to assist all voters.
Only then can all people with disabilities exercise the right to vote privately and independently.
About Protection & Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc.
Established in 1977 as the protection and advocacy system for the State of South Carolina, P&A is mandated by state and federal law to protect the rights of people with disabilities in South Carolina. P&A is a private, non-profit corporation governed by a volunteer board of directors. As required by federal law, P&A is independent of all agencies that provide treatment or other services to people with disabilities.
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