Wednesday, August 23, 2006

New York's Disservice to its Disabled Voters

New York 1 reports on the City Board of Election's unveiling of their "ballot marking devices," machines that are meant to allow physically disabled and elderly voters to vote in privacy in November's election -- something that's required under the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

“Whether they have a visual disability or dexterity disability, they can vote on a machine and have their ballot marked using either the audio component of the ballot or a touch screen component of the ballot, or if they need to, use either a sip and puff type device or rocker paddles,” New York City Board of Elections Executive Director John Ravitz said Monday.

Sounds great, no? But there's at least one big problem. HAVA requires one machine for the disabled at every polling place. In New York City, these machines will only "be in place in every borough office for September's primaries and November's election."

That means if I'm disabled and I live in Inwood, at the northern end of Manhattan, I've got to find someway to get several miles downtown -- just so that I can wait in line at the borough offices, with every other disabled person in Manhattan, in order to vote. And remember, I'm physically disabled and/or elderly.

This isn't the city's fault, necessarily. Because the State was so slow in getting its act together in complying with HAVA, it was forced, by lawsuit brought by the Justice Department, to come up with this plan. But any way you look at it, disabled voters are not getting what they should be entitled to by law.

Categories: General, Voting

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