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Monday, July 8, 2024 | Back issues
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Alaska discriminates against disabled voters, DOJ says

Alaska voters reported that polling locations were frequently physically inaccessible and that the state's elections websites also blocked them from accessing essential voting information like registration forms and voting dates.

(CN) — The U.S. Department of Justice found Tuesday that the state of Alaska violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it made it unnecessarily difficult for residents with disabilities to vote.

According to a department in a Tuesday press release, Alaskans with disabilities reported that both polling places and government websites about voting were inaccessible to them, prompting the Justice Department to investigate the issue as part of its ADA Voting Initiative program.

“For too long, people with disabilities have been denied the fundamental rights and freedoms that citizens of our democracy possess, including the opportunity to fully participate in the voting process,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is fully committed to enforcing the ADA to make sure that individuals with disabilities have an equal opportunity to vote, including by voting privately and independently like everyone else.”

The investigation found that Alaska violated Title II of the ADA when it did not provide accessible in-person voting and by restricting access to election information on its websites.

The Justice Department discovered that many polling locations had inaccessible physical barriers and that even if disabled Alaskans could get inside, the state did not have have accessible voting machines, or that they were broken.

It also found that the state's election website was similarly inaccessible, blocking people from essential voting information like voter registration forms, candidate statements and voting dates and locations.

“Voting is a fundamental right for all American citizens and ensuring they have full access to the election process is a hallmark of our democracy,” said U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker for the District of Alaska. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to collaborate with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to work toward accessibility in voting for all Alaskans.”

Also on Tuesday, the Justice Department announced it had also filed statements of interest in Ohio and Alabama courts to "promote the correct and uniform interpretation of voting laws guarding the rights of voters with disabilities."

The department also announced on Friday that the State of Utah violated the ADA by segregating people with intellectual and developmental disabilities instead of providing them opportunities to find work or interact with those without disabilities.

According the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, polling places must have accessible parking spaces with accessible routes to the entrance, ramps and adequate space for wheelchair access and elevators if voting areas are on higher floors. Door handles must also be easy to open without tight pinching or twisting and voting machines cannot be placed be higher than 48 inches.

Categories / Civil Rights, Elections, Law, Uncategorized

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