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Thread: PVA Urges House Members to Vote 'No' on Legislation that Denies Disabled Voters Access to Polling Places Nationwide

  1. #1

    PVA Urges House Members to Vote 'No' on Legislation that Denies Disabled Voters Access to Polling Places Nationwide

    PVA Urges House Members to Vote 'No' on Legislation that Denies Disabled Voters Access to Polling Places Nationwide


    WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) opposes H.R. 3295, "The Help America Vote Act of 2001." From the perspective of those with visual and manual disabilities, the language of the House proposal fails to advance voting rights for all Americans.

    A recent Government Accounting Office report found that at the time of the November 2000 elections, 84 percent of U.S. polling places that were randomly sampled in 33 states had at least one barrier to voters using wheelchairs. And for those voters who were blind or visually impaired, not one polling place offered these disabled voters an opportunity to cast their vote privately.

    "For PVA members and other citizens with disabilities, it's unconscionable that 10 years after passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we still face barriers to our right to vote," stated John C. Bollinger, PVA's deputy executive director.

    Throughout the country, the track record of states and local municipalities in setting voting access standards falls far short. Consequently, PVA believes that the adoption of national standards is the best approach in ensuring access to polling places. PVA asserts that comprehensive legislation guaranteeing polling place access for the disabled would include the following elements:

    -- All polling places must comply with accessibility standards by a specified date.

    -- The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board must develop a definition of accessibility standards.

    -- Voters with disabilities will not be denied their right to vote simply due to their disability.

    -- The Justice Department will enforce the federal standards on accessibility.

    -- Congress should amend the Voting Rights Act to extend private right of action to those with disabilities.

    "Congress clearly needs to act on this issue, but we believe that this House bill fails to protect the rights of voters with disabilities. Congress can and must do a better job on behalf of disabled Americans," Bollinger concluded.

    ---

    The Paralyzed Veterans of America, a veterans service organization chartered by Congress, has for more than 55 years served the needs of its members, all of whom have catastrophic paralysis caused by spinal cord injury or disease. To learn about PVA, visit its web site at www.pva.org.
    Contact: David J. Uchic of the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), 202-416-7667 Web site: http://www.pva.org

  2. #2
    Here is more information on this bill

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...2001Nov16.html

    Here are some relevant parts:

    Their proposal attempts to thread the needle. It authorizes $400 million to buy up the kind of punch-card voting machines that caused so many problems in Florida and another $2.25 billion over the next three years to assist states in obtaining new equipment and improving their election systems, with help and monitoring from a new bipartisan federal Election Assistance Commission.

    It also sets minimum performance standards -- enforced by the Justice Department -- that would require all states to create statewide voter registration lists, to set specific standards for what constitutes a vote, to allow provisional voting if there is a question about someone's eligibility and, most important, to allow voters to correct inadvertent errors before they leave the polling place.

    There are also small grants to encourage college and high school students to be trained to work at the polls, filling a critical shortage of election personnel and building a sense of participation among young people, who are perhaps the most cynical about the political system.

    The bill does not go far enough to satisfy some civil rights groups and some advocates for the disabled. Hoyer and Ney acknowledge it is a compromise. But it can -- and should -- pass. If it does, it will help remove a blot on our democracy and show that even now, serious legislators can still work across party lines.

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