Iowa Secretary of State Equips All Counties with Tablets to Assist in ADA Compliance

The technology provided will allow county auditors to more easily identify accessible polling locations in all 1,681 precincts across the state.

by Elizabeth Meyer, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa / April 7, 2017
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(TNS) -- Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate announced this week his office will supply tablet computers for all 99 counties to assist election officials with Americans with Disabilities Act provisions required at polling places.

Pate's office will distribute the tablets, equipped with the ADA Checklist Program application, to every auditor's office in Iowa.

A statement released Wednesday by a spokesman for Pate said "technology provided by the app will allow county auditors to more easily identify accessible polling locations in all 1,681 precincts across the state."

"We applaud this effort to assist county auditors and election officials to employ the standards in the Americans with Disabilities Act to better evaluate and ensure the accessibility of Iowa's precinct polling places," said Rik Shannon, public policy manager for the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council.

"The curb cuts and automatic doors that we all take for granted today were intended by the ADA to give individuals with disabilities greater access to the community. Similarly, this renewed focus on polling place accessibility will benefit not only Iowans with disabilities but all voters."

Des Moines County auditor Terri Johnson said her office expects to receive the tablet May 12.

Johnson, elected auditor in the November general election, said the county currently uses a paper checklist to keep track of ADA requirements.

"Some areas of the City are hard to find alternative locations that are ADA compliant with an adequate parking area," said Johnson. "A majority of our precincts are churches and concerned about ADA access for their members, so I would say a majority of them would still pass the ADA requirements."

Once the auditor's office received the tablet and learned the app, Johnson said they would start contacting precincts and begin a review of the county's ADA practices.

Polling place accessibility is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, enacted in 1990.

The ADA Checklist for Polling Places will provide guidance to election officials to determine whether a polling place has the basic accessibility features required for voters with disabilities, or can be made accessible on Election Day, according to the statement.

Features of the app include the ability to take pictures of polling place structures, provide guidance for making temporary accommodations, assist counties with polling place layout, reports and tracking supplies needed for individual polling sites.

"I value our partnership with the county auditors and I want every eligible Iowan to cast a ballot," Pate said in a statement Wednesday. "This app will be a valuable tool for election officials to help ensure all 1,681 precincts in the state are accessible for voters with disabilities."

A 2015 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated 53 million adults in America live with a disability, the most common disability being limited mobility.

The tablets were funded through a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Election Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities grant.

In other election news, a bill requiring voters present a government-issued identification card when casting their ballot is awaiting a final decision from Gov. Terry Branstad.

Similar versions of House File 516 passed the Senate and House of Representatives in March.

©2017 The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.