ada.gov states, “HAVA [Help America Vote Act of 2002] requires jurisdictions conducting federal elections to have a voting system (such as the actual voting machines) that is accessible, including to citizens who are blind or visually impaired, at each polling place. The accessible voting system must provide the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence, that other voters enjoy.”
This Accessible (electronic) Voting machine table at the Somerville High School polling location (serving Ward 3, Precincts 1 & 2) is at the back of the room, less than 2 feet from the room’s perimeter fencing on the right, and with side clearance to approach on the left side.
There is no level, smooth and slip-free #AccessibleRoute to use this machine. Instead, there are safety hazards.
Photo, above, shows that: 1. an unsecured electric cord lies on floor at open side of Accessible Machine table; 2. there is no sturdy chair available near the table; and 3. there are no headphones readily available and connected to the machine. Photo taken 10:22 am November 8, 2016 under the watchful eye of a Poll Worker. Ward 3 Somerville, MA
• An unsecured electric cord lies in a bumpy heap on the floor on the open side of the table.
• A display board on wheels is positioned within the necessary clearance needed to provide an Accessible Route to the front of the machine. This is an especially risky Tripping Hazard for Blind voters.
Dependency Is Fostered
The machine is not set up in a manner that facilitates an independent and private voting experience. Instead, dependency is fostered, because users have to ask for assistance, unlike other voters, after registering and receiving their ballot at the front of the room.
• No headphones are readily available and plugged into the machine. Instead, voters using this machine to vote have to first ask for additional assistance.
• No sturdy chair is readily available nearby so that the majority of voters who use this machine can just sit down and vote. Instead, voters using this machine to vote have to first ask for additional assistance.
Somerville, MA uses the AutoMARK electronic voting machine.
No measurements were taken and no Poll Workers were asked any questions by this writer when at the Polling place on #ElectionDay2016.
The Poll Workers were very lovely, very busy, and clearly doing the best job they were trained to do.
Solution: The City of Somerville, MA must provide adequate training to staff involved with set-up and on-site voting programs to ensure that Polling Places are set up in a manner that facilitates Accessible, Private and Independent Voting
Selected Federal & State #AccessibleVoting Information:
• Information regarding Federal Laws protecting the rights of American Voters with disabilities are at https://www.justice.gov/file/69411/download
• Massachusetts Voters: Check out the Bill of Voting Rights and other accessibility-related resources at the Massachusetts-based REV Up site: http://revupma.org/wp/