July 21, 2022
Source: U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
The Justice Department has secured an agreement under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act [PDF] (ADA) with the Jefferson County, Kentucky, Board of Elections to ensure that the Board’s polling places are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
The department identified architectural barriers at numerous polling places after it reviewed the Jefferson County Board’s voting program for compliance with the ADA. These barriers included inaccessible parking, ramps that were too steep, walkways that had steep cross slopes or had gaps and bumps and voting machines that could not be accessed by voters with mobility disabilities. The department also identified that the Jefferson County Board fails to provide voters with disabilities privacy and independence while voting.
Under the ADA, state and local governmental entities that conduct elections may not select polling places that are inaccessible to individuals with disabilities for use during elections, and they must make reasonable modifications to ensure that voters with disabilities have equal opportunity to participate in voting programs.
“Voting is the bedrock of our democracy, and all voters, including those with disabilities, should have an equal opportunity to participate in the voting process,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to use every tool at our disposal, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, to protect the rights of all Americans to vote.”
Under the terms of the agreement, the Jefferson County Board will immediately begin remediating its voting program. The Board will employ measures such as portable ramps, signage and propped-open doors to ensure that its selected polling places are accessible to voters with disabilities. In addition, the Board will train its poll workers and other elections staff on the requirements of the ADA and how to use temporary measures to ensure each polling place is accessible during elections. The Board will also survey polling locations for accessibility and maintain the accessibility of each polling place it uses on election days. When selecting future polling places, the Board will select locations that will be accessible during elections.
This settlement is part of the department’s ADA Voting Initiative, which focuses on protecting the voting rights of individuals with disabilities. A hallmark of the ADA Voting Initiative is its collaboration with jurisdictions to increase accessibility at polling places. Through this initiative, the Department of Justice has surveyed more than 2,500 polling places and increased polling place accessibility in more than 50 jurisdictions, including Newton County, Arkansas; St. Louis, Missouri; Travis County, Texas; and Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania.
For more information about the ADA, please visit ada.gov or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).