Push Is On to Make Polling Places Accessible

Jul 16, 2016

More than 10-percent of Illinoisans are living with a disability, and this week the focus is on making sure they get an equal chance to vote.

It's National Disability Voter Registration Week. Cheryl Jansen with the group Equip for Equality says historically, people with disabilities have been underrepresented at the polls for a variety of reasons.
"The physical inaccessibility of polling places and equipment. There have also been problems with discriminatory practices and attitudes of poll workers and election officials, guardians and caretakers. It's important that every voter, including voters with disabilities, have full and equal access to the electoral process. And so, that's part of why these federal laws were passed, to address some of the barriers and iniquities that existed."

But, Jansen says in the past decade, federal protections have helped polling places become more accessible.

Jansen notes the state has recently made changes to help as well. They include setting up same-day and mail-in voting processes.

Illinois voters can request vote-by-mail applications starting on August 10th.

If someone does notice accessibility problems at a polling site, she says they can help by reporting it to the Illinois State Board of Elections.