Voting is one of our most important civil rights., but not everyone has equal access to their polling place. YNN's Mark Goshgarian tells us how the Allegany County Board of Elections is making it easier for those with disabilities to make their voices heard.
BELMONT, N.Y. — "For your voice to be heard, we just have to get you there," said Deborah Howe.
Howe, from the AIM Independent Living Center in Belmont, says people with disabilities faced many barriers on Election Day.
"They couldn't get out to vote, they couldn't get into the buildings, they couldn't, their voice wasn't heard and that was a big frustration," said Howe.
"Your frustration will end. We want people to be able to have a chance through all social and physical strata to be able to exercise their free will to vote," said Michael McCormick, (D) Election Commissioner.
McCormick, an Allegany County Election Commissioner, says the Board is working to remove the obstacles that prevent voters with disabilities from accessing their polling site.
The board has hired a consultant, and has asked each township to identify the work needed at a majority of the its 34 polling sites.
"Signage, marking of parking spots, there's a few ramp issues, and we're probably going to be moving some polling sites in the future to better accommodate the handicapped people, the disabled people," said Richard Hollis, (R) Election Commissioner.
The work is part of a recent agreement with the state Attorney General's Office to take the necessary steps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"Our goal is to combat discrimination and promote equality. Our goal is to ensure that all voters, including those with disabilities, are able to access their polling site during elections held this year," said Kristen Clarke, Civil Rights Bureau Chief, NYS Attorney General's Office.
Leaving Howe hopeful there's light at the end of the tunnel.
"Your voice does matter, you are a citizen of this state, you are a member of this country, you deserve to have your voice head, and it does matter," said Howe.
The board has until May to start the work, and hopes to have much of it completed by August.