December 19, 2014

Report outlines polling place violations

A review of polling sites in Wisconsin by the state Government Accountability Board found more than 10,000 violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

GAB staff visited more than 1,600 polling places over the last three years, looking for access issues that could make it harder for someone with a disability to vote. Elections Division Administrator Michael Haas says the violations range from not having accessible voting equipment readily available to lacking clearly marked entrances for the disabled to use. Haas says the majority of the violations were minor, but almost 3,800 were serious enough to keep someone with a disability from accessing the polls.

The GAB uses the information to advise local election officials on what they need to change or keep in mind when designating polling places. In most cases, Haas says municipal clerks were responsive to the problems identified.

AUDIO: Michael Haas, GAB (:18)

Municipal clerks select local polling places and Haas admits there can be difficulty in making some of them ADA compliant, either because local governments lack the funding for upgrades or because the buildings being used are privately owned. Haas says the GAB does have staff that can help clerks and there are some federal funds available for supplies that can be used to make polling places more accessible.