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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Philadelphia Regarding Polling Place Access for People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced a settlement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with the city of Philadelphia to greatly improve accessibility for individuals with mobility disabilities at the city’s 1,200 polling places. Today’s settlement is the first settlement by the Justice Department with a city focused solely on accessible polling places.

Under the terms of the settlement, the city of Philadelphia recognizes that accessible polling places are the cornerstone of its voting accessibility program and will make its polling places accessible to persons with disabilities. The settlement will give people with mobility disabilities the opportunity to vote at polling places, rather than through the use of an absentee-type ballot. The city will also pay for an independent expert, who will assess the accessibility of nearly half the polling places and make recommendations to make polling places accessible on Election Day. The Justice Department will evaluate the remaining polling places for accessibility. The settlement also requires that accessibility based on ADA standards will be a major criterion in the city’s selection of future polling places. In addition, the settlement agreement requires the city to provide access to alternate means of voting for individuals with disabilities until their polling places are made accessible.

"The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy. This agreement will help ensure that persons with mobility disabilities have the opportunity to exercise their right and cast their ballot in person, at the polls, near their homes and alongside their neighbors," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department is committed to continued, vigorous enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act."

A separate, class-action lawsuit (Kerrigan v. The City of Philadelphia) filed by certain voters with disabilities against Philadelphia regarding the accessibility of the city’s polling places has been resolved along with the Department’s investigation.

More information about this settlement and the ADA is available at the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY), and via the ADA Web site at http://www.ada.gov.

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Civil Rights Division
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