Landmark Decision: Voter Polling Sites Must be Accessible for People with Disabilities on Election Day
New York, NY – August 8, 2012 – In a major victory for voters with disabilities who use wheelchairs or have vision impairments, a Federal Court ruled today that New York City’s voter polling sites must be accessible for people with disabilities on Election Day. The groundbreaking decision is the culmination of over a decade of advocacy by persons with disabilities. The ruling is expected to have national implications.
The suit, which seeks no damages, was filed in July of 2010 by United Spinal Association and Disabled in Action – two groups which work to ensure that people with disabilities are integrated into their communities and live as independently as possible. The Plaintiffs are represented by Disability Rights Advocates (“DRA”), a non-profit law center with offices in California and New York City, which specializes in civil rights cases on behalf of persons with disabilities.
Read the court’s decision at: dralegal.org.
The lawsuit was filed to address the widespread access barriers at New York City’s voter polling sites, including steep and dangerous wheelchair ramps, locked doors to wheelchair accessible entrances, and a lack of signage indicating the location of accessible entrances. The presence of these widespread access barriers prevented voters with disabilities from voting at their neighborhood polling sites.
Inspections of New York polling places conducted over the past decade by the Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY (CIDNY), demonstrated that logistical and physical barriers were pervasive and present significant problems for people with disabilities.
Julia Pinover, Director of DRA’s Manhattan office commented: “This case was the first case filed when we opened our office in New York, two years ago on the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It is a historic case which gives people with disabilities the dignity they deserve.”
Stuart Seaborn, DRA Staff Attorney commented: “New York’s treatment of people with disabilities has often been shameful. It is unacceptable that New York’s subways, office buildings, taxi fleet, and businesses exclude so many people with disabilities. As the federal court has now recognized, it is unacceptable to have such massive voting barriers to people who use wheelchairs, scooters, and other mobility aids and people with vision impairments.”
Julia Pinover, DRA Attorney, (212) 644-8644, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stuart Seaborn, DRA Attorney, (510) 665-8644, email@example.com