The Help America Vote Act requires that every polling place be accessible to people with disabilities and that every site have accessible voting machines. But it’s difficult to find enough accessible polling sites for hundreds of thousands of voters, and it’s expensive to place specially equipped machines at each site. In Colorado, election administrators are trying something new.
In 2006, Denver will have only 40 polling places, called “vote centers,” but citizens will be able to vote at the center of their choice—no more turning up at the wrong place. Poll workers at the centers will have more specialized training, so they should be able to provide better service to people with disabilities. However, because officials have largely failed to address that other accessibility problem—transportation—these improvements will be most available to people who own cars. “We all need to move forward together,” says Jenny Flanagan of Common Cause Colorado, a nonprofit group that works to ensure government serves the public interest. “If we’re going to improve elections, let’s improve them for everyone.”