DES MOINES – United States Attorney Kevin W. Techau announced today that Iowa officials have been provided with guidance to help ensure voting equality for people with disabilities. The Justice Department recently published a new technical assistance publication about federal laws that protect the rights of voters with disabilities, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Act. The publication, “The Americans with Disabilities Act & Other Federal Laws Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities,” is intended to help election officials, poll workers and voters understand how the ADA and other federal laws ensure equality in the voting process for people with disabilities. Last week, Mr. Techau provided the new publication to all county auditors in the Northern District of Iowa.
“Our goal is to ensure there are no inaccessible polling places or voting equipment anywhere in the Northern District of Iowa,” said Mr. Techau. “I am hopeful this new guidance will help secure voting equality for all Iowans.”
“The right to vote is the foundation upon which our country is built,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran for the Civil Rights Division. “For too long in our history, many people with disabilities have been excluded from exercising this fundamental right and have been prevented from being a full participant in our democracy. A number of federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Voting Rights Act, have been put in place to address fairness in the voting process for people with disabilities. The Justice Department is fully committed to enforcing these laws to ensure that voters with disabilities are no longer discriminated against in the election process.”
The publication provides guidance about how the federal disability rights laws apply to the election process, from registration to voting. The publication discusses the need for policies, procedures, and programs to be in place to ensure that voters with disabilities are not discriminated against or illegally excluded from voting. For example, the guidance discusses local governments’ obligations under the ADA to ensure polling places are physically accessible to voters with mobility disabilities, as well as their obligation to provide effective communication with voters who have vision and hearing disabilities. Voters with disabilities must be able to access their polling place like everyone else, and vote alongside their neighbors and friends.
The “The Americans with Disabilities Act & Other Federal Laws Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities” publication may be found at http://www.ada.gov/ada_voting/