Study finds accessibility issues at several SC polling places for people with disabilities

Updated: Oct. 18, 2019 at 8:20 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A new report out Thursday shows several polling places in South Carolina didn’t have the necessary accessibility requirements for people with disabilities during the 2018 midterm elections.

Among the issues listed were inaccessible parking, walkways, entrances, voting areas and machines which suppressed the voting rights of those with disabilities and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The group Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities went to 32 polling places across 20 counties in South Carolina, the same places surveyed in 2014, and found little improvement.

Only two of the 32 locations had fully accessible ADA parking, 38 percent had no accessible parking space sign and 59 percent didn’t have designated and marked accessible spaces. 94 percent of the parking lots at the polling places didn’t have an adequate number of accessible parking spaces according to the ADA standards.

The study also found 78 percent of the locations surveyed lacked a “clear and level path of travel” from the parking to the entrance of the building. 28 percent of the locations surveyed weren’t accessible by someone using a wheelchair.

South Carolina does have some laws in place which protect the rights of voters with disabilities including curbside voting, the right to vote by absentee ballot, and people with disabilities can complete forms by mark rather than a full signature.

The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 requires all polling places to be accessible during federal elections.

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 ensures there must be at least one accessible voting system in federal elections. This rule is extended to state and local elections via the ADA.

The full report can be found here.

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