Polling Places Not Accessible

1 decade 9 months 1 week ago December 22, 2005 Dec 22, 2005 Thursday, December 22 2005 Thursday, December 22, 2005 5:38:54 PM CST in News

County clerks have to make polling places accessible for disabled people by Jan. 1 to comply with the Help America Vote Act.  But, many say that's not likely.

"Reality is, there are still going to be individuals that won't be able to access the polling places," said Mark Stone of Services for Independent Living.

County clerks need to order new electronic machines and renovate buildings which are not accessible for people with disabilites.

Although Boonville's courthouse is wheelchair-accessible and complies with many of the act's requirements, the Cooper County clerk admits he'll have to shut down some polling places because it would cost too much to renovate them.

"It will be so much to upgrade them and cost so many dollars to upgrade them, not only for the county to spend or for the entity that we are renting from to spend," explained Darryl Kempf.

Cooper is one of many counties that will have to close older polling locations.

"I think that any improvement we have, as far as providing more-accessible polling places, physically getting to where you actually cast your vote and then being able to cast your vote with the assistance of someone else being in your booth, I think anything we do is going to be helpful." said Stone.

Services for Independent Living says Boone County is the most prepared for the upcoming change. But, as long as electronic voting systems are in place by next August's elections, county clerks will avoid the hotseat.

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