ADA compliance review at polling places underway in Southern District

Polling places in the Southern District of Indiana are now being reviewed for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler announced Thursday.

The effort comes “in accordance with the federal government’s congressionally-mandated responsibility to review compliance with the ADA” and is not “in response to any specific complaint against a county or individual polling location,” Minkler’s office said.

“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Indiana counties have had more than enough time to ensure that their polling places provide full access to individuals with disabilities,” Minkler said in a news release. “Hoosiers in the Southern District of Indiana, that have a disability, deserve equal access to polling places and we are committed to making sure that they have it in time for the 2020 election.”

Election officials in Indiana’s 60 southern counties are being asked to complete survey questions pertaining to polling place accessibility in their county as part of the review. Investigators may then conduct on-site inspections to confirm survey responses and to evaluate compliance with federal ADA regulations.

Counties found to be non-compliant will have the option of resolving issues informally, Minkler’s office said. If that effort fails, counties may enter into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement with the government, voluntarily agreeing to upgrade their facilities and address issues in order to meet ADA requirements before the November 2020 election.

Counties may face a civil lawsuit brought by the government and/or be subject to penalties, including monetary penalties and civil fines, if they are found to be engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination or if they fail to enter into a VCA.

Under the ADA, discrimination is prohibited on the basis of disability in all programs, activities and services provided by public entities. It also requires that public entities provide voting facilities that are accessible to people with disabilities.

Hoosiers concerned about their polling places in the Indiana Southern District may contact assistant U.S. attorney Jeffrey Preston at 317-226-6333.

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