Justice Department Settles with Augusta County, Virginia, Regarding Polling Place Accessibility Under the Americans with Disabilities Act
Today the Justice Department filed a proposed consent decree with Augusta County, Virginia, resolving claims that the county violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The complaint, which was filed along with the consent decree, alleges that the county discriminated against voters with disabilities by failing to provide accessible polling places. Many polling places in Augusta County have architectural barriers that make them inaccessible to voters who use wheelchairs or have mobility impairments, or voters who are blind or have vision impairments.
“Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “Through the ADA, the promise of equal voting rights for people with disabilities is fulfilled. Under this agreement, voters with disabilities in Augusta County can vote at the polling place near their home alongside their neighbors and friends, like other voters.”
“The ability of the people to participate in our elected system of government requires access for all to voting places,” said U.S. Attorney Anthony P. Giorno of the Western District of Virginia. “The agreement in this case represents a substantial step toward guaranteeing voting access to all of our citizens.”
Under the consent decree, which must be approved by the court, the county will make temporary changes for election day at many of its polling places and permanent changes to the Augusta County Government Center, to make these polling places accessible, before the March 2016 elections. Going forward, the county will select only polling place locations that are accessible on election day. The county will also provide training to poll workers and file reports with the Justice Department on its compliance. The county, which cooperated with the department in this matter, began to increase the accessibility of its polling places for yesterday’s election.
Title II of the ADA prohibits public entities, such as Augusta County, from discriminating against people with disabilities in their programs, services and activities. With respect to polling places, public entities are required to select and use polling places that are accessible. To learn more about ADA requirements for polling place accessibility or about the ADA and other laws protecting the rights of voters with disabilities, visit www.ada.gov/ta-pubs-pg2.htm.
Those interested in finding out more about the ADA can call the Justice Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TDD), or access the ADA website at www.ada.gov.