Somerville Voting Access Resources Offered 2006 2008

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Community disability rights activists offer the City voting access information and resources between 2006 and 2008.

Since the City ignored these issues, this writer submitted Voting Access complaints to the State in 2009 and 2010.

Published in: News & Politics, Travel
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Somerville Voting Access Resources Offered 2006 2008

  1. 1. Selected voting access information and resources provided to the City of Somerville 2006 – 2008 by “ordinary citizens.” Contents: 1. Polling Places surveyed September 19, 2006. 2. Five pointers regarding Voting Access prior to November 2006 elections 3. Specific details provided ADA Coordinator Tranfaglia in the week prior to November 2006 elections. 4. October 2008 Somerville Journal article regarding voter access. 5. RE: AutoMARK machines October, 2008 6. RE: MA Architectural Access Code and specific polling sites to examine, October, 2008. --------- 1. POLLING PLACES SURVEYED Information Provided to Somerville Journal September 19, 2006 NOTE: The Somerville Journal published a story on September 21, 2006 regarding lack of voter access; curiously, this story was removed from the Somerville Journal archives. (The original URL was: http://www2.townonline.com/somerville/localRegional/view.bg?articleid =578514 and the story was written by reporter Audita Guha.) Ward One, Precinct 2: No HP-van accessible parking spaces. No interior aisle room without help. Ward One, Precinct 3: No HP-van accessible parking spaces. No interior aisle without help. Friendly customer service. Ward Two, Precinct 3: No HP-van accessible parking spaces. (although there was clearly enough room on the side of the building to designate a
  2. 2. safe space). No accessible front entrance. No interior aisle room without help. Ward Three, Precinct 1: Accessible, roomy, and excellent customer service. Ward Three, Precinct 3: Most inclusive polling place. Accessible, roomy, and excellent, sensitive customer service. Best HP parking feature and entrance. Ward Four, Precinct 2: No HP-van accessible parking spaces. No interior aisle room without help. Ward Five, Precinct 1: No HP-van accessible parking spaces. No clear entrance for wheelchair access. Staff thoughtfully designated a wooden table instead of the plastic table; however, it was a child's desk and chair! Very crowded, hot conditions for workers and voters. Ward Six, Precinct 2: No HP-van accessible parking spaces. Entrance not accessible for wheelchair. No aisle space. Customer service not sensitive to issues of persons with disabilities. Ward Six, Precinct 3: HP-designated space with no access aisle, but safe. No HP-van accessible parking spaces. Ward Seven, Precinct 2: No HP-van accessible parking spaces. Entrance blocked by fire truck; no wheelchair access. No interior aisle room. quot;Disabled Votersquot; table appeared broken, with no light, a large book left on it. Customer service appeared hostile to issues of persons with disabilities. -------------- 2. RECOMMENDATIONS PROVIDED SEPTEMBER 2006: (Richard Tranfaglia, ADA Coordinator)
  3. 3. 5 pointers: 1. SENSITIVITY & TRAINING in the details of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is necessary for all poll workers, and all City staff. 2. PRIVACY. privacy issues can still be respected as much as possible, by ensuring that persons with disabilities are not pointed out in ways which may feel humiliating and degrading to them as well as their accompanying family and friends; and, especially, no persons should be discussed after they leave the polling places in any way which disregards their privacy and dignity (such as having their illnesses and family situations, etc. discussed aloud without their explicit permission, and while other voters are within earshot). 3. HP VAN-ACCESSIBLE PARKING SPACES: In general, persons who use handicap vans (which provide features for persons who use wheelchairs to drive), require parking spaces with ACCESS AISLES, so that they can exit their vehicle onto an accessible and safe adjacent aisle, and from there, go to the curb cut, and into the building. Without an access aisle, the parking space is inaccessible and unsafe. 4. ENTRANCE DOOR, HALLWAY ACCESS, ROOM CLEARANCE: Entrance needs to be wide enough for the wheelchair to clear it on both sides, and the hallways down to the voting room need to be wide and clear to allow wheelchair access. In addition, the voting room needs to have an aisle for getting to the voting table, which is clearly large enough for the wheelchair to maneuver through without requiring assistance. 5. COMMON SENSE DIGNITY: Somerville currently has plastic tables which are not sturdy, not even slightly weight-bearing, and which have handwritten signs taped onto or above them, which say quot;disabled votersquot;. These tables are often seen with voting materials and waste materials
  4. 4. piled atop them. The plastic tables are completely unsteady- one could topple them over easily- so who were they designed for? These are second class accommodations, clearly not designed in a spirit of dignity and inclusion. 3. INFORMATION PROVIDED TO TRANFAGLIA PRIOR TO NOVEMBER, 2006 Elections: From: quot;Craig Fletcherquot; Subject: Date: Wed, November 1, 2006 2:44 pm To: tranfaglia, ei Hi Richard, Eileen is away this week, but she asked me to contact you to and give you this information, so improvements can be made to make Somerville voting sites more accessible.None of the recommendations being made have a cost, so with your leadership, they should be able to be implemented. Eileen and I would also be more than willing to accompany you to the different sites on November 7th to look at the efforts you made to make these sites more accessible. I'm sure we could get something in the paper to describe the City's efforts to address this issue. The following are issues the Somerville Disability Commission is recommending in this matter: • Ensure that each voting site has a unimpeded handicap accessible entry , hallway and room • The height of the blue plastic tables designated for people with disabilities should be no higher then 32quot; with leg room no lower than 27quot; (This information was provided by the Mass. Office on Disabilities). Otherwise, they are useless to people in wheelchairs. • Handicapped accessible parking for voters be clearly marked and placed near the closest curb cut to the voting site, so people in wheelchairs will not
  5. 5. have to maneuver their wheelchairs into the street for any length of time than necessary. • Select areas at the voting sites that ensure the privacy and dignity of each voter. • Have election volunteers received sensitivity training in working with people with disabilities? I cannot speak for the rest of the commission, but I would be more than willing to do a training. I would also have people with varying disabilities come and speak, so they could educated even better than I. I know you said Somerville would receive new voting machines that were handicapped accessible. I checked with the mass. Voting Office and Somerville is not one of the towns that will be testing the new machines. I recommend that you get this message into the local papers, so Somerville residents do not come to vote on Tuesday, looking for these new machines. I will also call you to make sure you receive this message. Craig Fletcher Somerville Disability Commission --------------- 4. Somerville Journal article by Eileen Feldman at: http://www.wickedlocal.com/somerville/news/opinions/x12729635 47/Feldman-We-are-U-S-enabled-voters -------------- 5. AutoMARK resources and infor TO ELECTIONS DEPARTMENT COMMISSIONER, DIRECTOR October 2008 Subject: AutoMARK Pre-Elections Day checklist From: eifeldman Date: October 17, 2008 1:55:50 PM EDT
  6. 6. To: Nsalerno”at” somervillema”dot”gov Dear Mr. Salerno, I thought it would be good if I alerted you directly to three complaints I heard regarding the recent Primary Day (9/16/08) elections: 1. The headphones to the accessible Voting machines were missing. 2. Poll workers didn't seem to know how to operate the Accessible Voting machines. 3. Ink cartridge had not been checked. This Pre-Election Day checklist might be useful: http://www.in.gov/sos/elections/workers/training/ESS%20AutoMARK%20P r-Election%20Day%20Checklist.pdf Best wishes to you, the Commissioners, and the Poll Workers! E. Feldman, Ward 3 resident cc: Co-Chairs Human Rights Commission (HRC) Acting Executive Director S Darai, HRC -------------------- 6. Structural accessibility resources and specific tips, offered to Elections Commissioner and Somerville ADA Coordinator Campbell October, 2008: Subject: Somerville's Voting accessibility From: eifeldman Date: October 25, 2008 1:04:16 PM EDT To: Nsalerno, ccampbell 10/25/08 Dear Election Commissioner Salerno and City ADA Coordinator
  7. 7. Campbell, I am writing to note certain structural (architectural access) issues that may require additional planning at the below-noted polling sites. These and other issues were noted on Election Day, 2006 after attempts were made to alert the city's then- ADA Coordinator to proactively assess polling sites throughout the city; these and other access issues have been noted in successive citywide elections as well. Voter accessibility issues have most recently been reviewed in my (10/08/08) Journal article, your recent (10/16/08) meeting with the Human Rights Commission, as well as my recent email (10/18/08) noting concerns about the maintenance and procedures around the touch screen voting machines. This is by no means to be construed as a comprehensive list of polling site access concerns, nor is this to be construed as an evaluation of structural accessibility issues at any polling sites. Because the number of wheelchair-mobile and visually adapted voters, for example, may be increased this year, this is offered in hopes for everyone to enjoy equal and dignified integration, independence and accessibility during this year's Election Day. Any and all attempts to intimidate, harass, censor or repudiate me or anyone, etc., for offering this information, or to treat it in a bad faith manner, will be brought to the attention of the MA Commission Against Discrimination. Thank you. Eileen Feldman WARD ONE: East Somerville Branch Library: Accessible entrance, accessible parking, accessible route.
  8. 8. WARD TWO: Police Department and Lowell Street Fire Station: Accessible parking. WARD FIVE: DPW room: Accessible entrance, accessible route. Brown School: Accessible entrance, accessible route. Engine 7 Fire Station: Accessible parking. WARD SIX: Ciampa Manor: Accessible public entrance, accessible route. Methodist Church: Accessible entrance, Accessible parking. WARD SEVEN: Senior Center: Accessible parking for voters. Teele Square Fire Station: Accessible Entrance, accessible parking. SOME NOTES: Accessible Entrance: The approach to an accessible entrance should be a paved walk or ramp with a slip resistant surface. Entrances should be uninterrupted by steps and should have a level space on the interior and exterior of the entrance doors. Door mats should be securely anchored, level (slope no more than 2%), and not create a transition of more than 1/4 inch. Vestibules with hinged or pivoted doors should have a minimum of 48 inches clearance (plus the width of the door) between all doorways. Doors should have a clear opening of at least 32 inches, and the maximum force for pushing or pulling open a door should not exceed 15 lbs. for exterior hinged doors and 5 lbs. for interior hinged doors (or be equipped with compensating or automatic opening devices. IF THE PUBLIC ENTRANCE IS NOT ACCESSIBLE to wheelchair-mobile residents, signage indicating the presence and location of an accessible entrance must be clearly visible at all public entrances. Please see: 521 CMR 25.00: ENTRANCES, and
  9. 9. 521 CMR 26.00: DOORS AND DOORWAYS Accessible route: A continuous unobstructed path of travel, at least 36 inches, and coincides with the route for the public. In a polling room, it would be a route that allows wheelchair users equal ability to travel from the check-in table to (an integrated) polling booth, and from there to the polling box. etc. Please see: 521 CMR 20.00: ACCESSIBLE ROUTE Accessible Parking: Temporary accessible parking for voters should be located on the shortest accessible route of travel, leading to an accessible entrance. Accessible parking spaces should be at least 8 feet wide PLUS include the access aisle. Parking spaces should be level, with slopes not more than 1:50 (2%) in all directions. Drivers should never have to exit their cars into oncoming traffic. Please see: 521 CMR 23.00: PARKING AND PASSENGER LOADING ZONES -end of review of selected documents offered to improve Voting Accessibility in Somerville, MA 2006 & 2008 ©2008 Feldman

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