An ADA Compliance Checklist for Polling Places
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With this being a major election year, as well as a year in which the Americans with Disabilities Act has received more attention for violations than perhaps any previous year, you can expect to hear a lot of news about noncompliant polling places.
Some cities have already made the news for their stunning lack of compliance at the vast majority of polling places, which are supposed to be equally accessible to all members of the public.
The ADA official website, www.ada.gov, has a thorough checklist for ADA compliance at polling places that is helpful for any public location hosting voting. Here are just a few of the highlights you should be aware of:
All entrances to the public polling place must have a portable ramp with edge protection and handrails. Of course, if a permanent ramp is already in place that meets ADA compliance standards, you do not need to worry about adding a portable ramp as well. Signs should direct voters to the accessible entrance if they need it.
Accessible door hardware.
If automatic door openers are not available, there are several solutions. Either add accessible push or pull handles and leave the door unlatched, leave the doors completely propped open, have volunteers at the door to help people into the building, or install a temporary doorbell so people can alert officials they need the door opened.
Accessibility in elevators or lifts.
If possible, voting areas should avoid elevators or lifts altogether. But if this is unavoidable, elevators or lifts should either have attendants or should always have the key in the elevator for easy operation.
Once inside, it should be easy for anyone to maneuver throughout the voting area. There should be plenty of space for people with walkers or wheelchairs to move freely through the area without having to worry about getting snagged or stuck. All doorway should be wide enough for wheelchairs to fit through.
All regular ADA rules apply relating to signage, both inside and out. Additional temporary signage may need to be implemented in the parking lots if you are adding more handicap parking spaces than usual to accommodate the voting crowds.
Be sure to visit the ADA website’s checklist for more information about how you can be in full compliance at polling places.