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Voters with disabilities

 

3/14/2005

By Veronica Castelo, News 10 Now Web Staff

 

Andria Doldo had a rough time voting in last year's presidential elections.

 

"I had to be put up on a stool in order to try and reach the voting, the poll levers. It took two people to lift me up," Doldo said.

 

Pulling the lever wasn't easy either.

 

"I had to have someone help me and that takes away the whole privacy issue for me," she said.

 

Andria wasn't the only person with a disability who encountered problems during the election. According to the New York State Independent Living Council Report, 92 people had problems accessing a voting machine, voting booth, or polling site.

 

Elizabeth Patience of the Northern Regional Center for Independent Living says three of those complaints came from Jefferson County. County election officials say they never received a complaint directly but agree it is a statewide issue that should be addressed.

 

"We have a machine in at least each town that is accessible. We also have offered through the years paper ballot which can be filled out early," said Cindy Corbett, Deputy Election Commissioner.

 

For Andria, filling out a ballot at home isn't enough.

 

"I am an American citizen just like anybody else and I feel that people with disabilities have the same rights as people without disabilities to go out and cast there votes the same way anybody would," Doldo said.

 

Patience says the NSIL's suggestions for better voting accessibility have been well taken by the county.

 

"The interaction between Jefferson and Lewis County has been very positive. There have been a lot of significant changes," Patience said.

 

Now Patience urges policy makers to go the extra mile as well, and pass legislation that would finance accessible voting machines, booths, and sites in every county.

 

Jefferson County election officials are not handling Tuesday's elections but say village and towns in the area have been well versed in helping people with disabilities vote.

 

Copyright 2005 TWEAN News Channel of Syracuse, LLC, d/b/a News 10 Now.

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Copyright 2005 TWEAN d.b.a. News 10 Now

 

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