NYC Suit Over Repetitive & Unaddressed Polling Site Barriers: Update

What began in 2010 as a civil rights lawsuit against the New York Board of Elections on behalf of voters with disabilities has garnered the attention and support of the US Department of Justice. The plaintiffs in the case include the United Spinal Association and Disabled in Action, represented by Disability Rights Advocates, a not-for-profit legal center specializing in these types of high-profile civil suits. The Justice Department’s recent support comes as a reaction to the Board of Elections appeal of the District Court’s decision in 2012. The DOJ supporting Amicus Brief was submitted by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in which it “urges the Court of Appeals to uphold the U.S. District Court’s August and October 2012 orders finding the Board of Elections (BOE) liable for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and ordering the BOE to remedy accessibility barriers at its poll sites throughout the City. “ The brief goes on to argue that, “the district court correctly entered summary judgment in favor of United Spinal based on undisputed evidence of the BOE’s failure to address barriers to access at New York City polling places. These barriers to access included steep ramps, missing handrails or guardrails on ramps, locked or heavy interior doors, blocked interior pathways, and missing signs identifying accessible entrances.”  Surveys taken indicated that 70% of polling sites surveyed in New York City elections between 2008 and 2011 contained barriers.  The most recent survey, taken on the November 2011 general election found one or more access barriers at 84% of the sites surveyed in the city. Staff Attorney for Disability Rights Advocates, Stuart Seaborn expressed gratitude for the Justice Departments support and concluded by reiterating the position they have held throughout the legal battle, stating that “New Yorkers with disabilities deserve an equal voice in our political process and voting at poll sites is a fundamental American ritual that no one should be denied.”

Read he brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit below:

 NYC Court of Appeals

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