REGISTER VIEWPOINT: Access to the polling place, or access to the polls?

That public buildings must be made accessible to the handicapped has been a reality the state of Ohio has been painfully slow to ada
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

That public buildings must be made accessible to the handicapped has been a reality the state of Ohio has been painfully slow to adapt to.

But is access to the mechanism of democracy more important than access to the physical building?

The state is cracking down on handicapped access to polling stations of every size, from those set up in big-city public buildings to the township hall out in the country that gets a crowd only on primary days and the general election.

A couple local small polling places have been told their usual practice of running ballots out to people in their cars, because they can’t make it up the stairs or whatever into the actual polling station, is not good enough.

This can get expensive, prohibitively so for smaller governmental bodies.

On the one  hand, the Americans with Disabilities Act is clear: If it’s meant to be used by the public, it has to be handicap-accessible — ramps instead of stairs, navigability by wheelchairs.

On the other hand, the loosening of requirements for absentee ballots — namely, to include anyone who is otherwise eligible to vote — certainly seems to us a broadening of access to the ballot. Shouldn’t this satisfy the spirit of the ADA, as far as voting?