More MS news articles for Oct 2001

GAO Report Shows Disabled Denied Voting Access

GAO Report Shows Disabled Are Denied Voting Access; 57 Percent of Voting Jurisdictions Report Problems for Voters with Disabilities

16 Oct 15:36
U.S. Newswire

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A report requested by top lawmakers in Congress and released yesterday from the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) has found that 57 percent of voting jurisdictions experienced problems conducting the 2000 federal elections. These problems included widespread inaccessibility for people in wheelchairs or with vision or hearing impairments. The GAO has been investigating the voting barriers since the beginning of this year.

"The GAO's report is hardly news to the millions of Americans with disabilities. We have been struggling for years to get local election officials to give us adequate access to polling places," said Jim Dickson of the Disability Vote Project for the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).

"Over one half of all polling places in America are not fully accessible to people in wheelchairs," continued Dickson. "And for the 10 million blind and low vision Americans, exercising the right to vote does not currently include casting an independent secret ballot."

Prior to yesterday's GAO report release, a coalition of groups including AAPD, the National Organization on Disability, the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association and the Blinded Veterans of America began class-action lawsuits against the cities of Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, Pa. Those lawsuits ask city officials to purchase and begin using accessible voting machines. The coalition of groups has found that jurisdictions such as Harris County, Texas, the nation's third largest county, have already put accessible voting systems in place.

"We cannot afford to have our voting apparatus randomly discriminate or to have our voting system appear to breakdown for some Americans," said Dickson.

"Every eligible American has the right to vote and to have that vote counted regardless of disability or the financial resources of the community in which they live. Americans with disabilities should not have to sue every jurisdiction just to exercise the right to vote," said Dickson. "Disabled Americans are counting on Congress to make voting accessible to all eligible voters before the 2002 elections."

The American Association of People with Disabilities' (AAPD) mission is to advance the political and economic power of all people with disabilities. Visit the AAPD website at

Copyright 2001, U.S. Newswire