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Report finds accessibility lacking for Metro Detroit voters with disabilities

Paulette Parker
Michigan Radio
A Voting Booth

A new report has found many polling places in Metro Detroit were not fully accessible for people with disabilities in the last midterm election.

The report by Detroit Disability Power and The Carter Center audited 261 polling places across 15 jurisdictions in Southeast Michigan during last year's midterm elections, finding that 84% of the polling places appeared out of compliance with accessibility requirements.

The report looked for accommodations including an accessible parking area with a clear pathway into the building, an accessible entrance into the building, a fully accessible voter assist terminal, and an accessible booth for casting paper ballots privately.

The biggest issue the groups found was a lack of accessible entrances. Many of the entrances were not immediately apparent. Several had stairs and ramps that were inaccessible because they were blocked by parked cars or signage.

In other cases, the voting booths themselves didn't meet standards for accessibility, or the polling places had technology to assist voters with disabilities, but it didn't work.

Detroit Disability Power communications director Ramiro Alvarez said some solutions to these problems are simple.

“The audit found that with appropriate training of poll workers, some better signage, and just a couple of considerations around doorways, stairs, ramps and sidewalks a lot of these polling locations can remove their access barrier as early as the next election," Alvarez said.

Toussaint joined Michigan Radio in June 2022 as a newsroom intern and is currently working in his second summer. He is a senior at Howard University in Washington, D.C., majoring in journalism and minoring in Afro-American Studies.