Accessible Voting Settlement Reached in Chicago

logo with the word VOTE, and universal sign for accessibility, a person leaning forwrad in a wheelchair, where the wheel is the O in the word VOTE

by Andy Jones
May 9, 2017

A new legal settlement seeks to make it easier for people with disabilities to exercise their voting rights in Chicago.

The Department of Justice and the Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago announced the agreement on April 20. 

Under the agreement, every polling site must be fully accessible under the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act by the November 2018 midterms. Equip for Equality is tasked with reviewing the polling sites to ensure compliance.

The Board must also provide extensive training, particularly for installing wheelchair ramps and other accommodations.

Last spring, the DOJ reviewed more than 100 of the Board’s 1,452 polling locations, finding numerous architectural barriers at many of the sites. Along with barriers that prevented people from physically entering the polling locations, many of the sites lacked tools to assist voters who are blind or deaf.

“The right of individuals to participate in our democratic system of government includes full and equal access to polling sites,” Acting U.S. Attorney Levin said in a news release. “This agreement represents an important step toward guaranteeing voting access to all of our citizens."

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois will retain jurisdiction over the settlement, which was filed without the commencement of a lawsuit.

A video about the settlement, from CBS Chicago, can be seen here.

You can get more information about national advocacy efforts to improve voting accessibility on the National Disability Right Network’s website.

Equip for Equality and Disability Rights Washington are the designated protection and advocacy agencies in Illinois and Washington, respectively, and are members of the National Disability Rights Network.