More Awards! EAC Honors Washington SoS, El Paso, CO and Collin, TX for Work on Accessibility

[Image via EAC]

The EAC continued yesterday with its Clearinghouse Awards in the area of accessibility for voters with disabilities, honoring a trio of election offices – Washington’s Secretary of State, El Paso County, CO and Collin County, TX – for their work in making the voting process open to all voters. From the press releases:

The Washington Secretary of State’s office was selected for its work to make the voting process more accessible for voters with disabilities. Born of the commission’s mandate to serve as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration, the annual “Clearie” awards recognize outstanding innovations in election administration that can serve as examples to other officials and jurisdictions.

“These awards celebrate the very best in election practices across the nation,” said EAC Chairman Matthew Masterson. “As we travel throughout the country, our commission sees first-hand the innovation and commitment to excellence that election officials and their partners bring to their work. These awards acknowledge that work and highlight best practices that other election administrations can emulate.”

The Washington Secretary of State’s office was chosen to receive a Clearie after the 2016 redesign of their voter information portal, MyVote. MyVote gives voters information, including registration details, contact information for their elected officials, an online voter guide, location of ballot drop boxes and voting centers, and their ballot status. Working with the Statewide Disability Advisory Committee and other stakeholders, the Secretary of State’s office created a new and improved voter tool that was more accessible and easy to use for all voters across the state, specifically voters with disabilities.

MyVote received nearly two million views after it was launched and supported a record number of online voter registrations submitted (27,601) on a single day in Washington. The new portal also received positive feedback from the accessibility community and there were no reported accessibility issues…

Ahead of the 2016 federal election, El Paso’s elections department partnered with the Independence Center – a local nonprofit dedicated to supporting independent living for the disabled community in the county – to improve voting accessibility. This included:

  • Hosting an open house for the community to practice on accessible voting machines prior to Election Day.
  • Coordinating with the Independence Center to provide disability etiquette training to over 200 election judges for the 2016 Primary and the Presidential Election.
  • Using the Independence Center as a voter service and polling center during the 2016 Presidential Election, which provided those with disabilities the opportunity to register and vote in a “highly accessible” center. The center had ASL interpreters on hand, and is also outfitted with several architectural features that facilitate better mobility for a range of disabilities.

Over 450 individuals voted at the Independence Center during the Presidential Election…

In 2016, Collin County Democrats With Disabilities partnered with the Collin County, Texas elections office and a coalition of nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy groups to address potential accessibility issues at the polls for voters with disabilities. This included a curbside voting drive-by review to ensure if a voter was physically unable to enter a polling place, they could have a ballot brought to the entrance of the polling place or to a car parked at the curbside. 

The goal of the review was for volunteers to go to early voting and Election Day voting sites and to find and fix any issues early in the day. In total, 79 (34 early voting and 45 Election Day) vote centers were reviewed by the program. Later, CCDWD met with Collin County Elections and recommended continuing the review project during the 2017 and 2018 election cycles, including disability representation on the county’s Election Board and including ADA requirements and discussions in election worker trainings.

As I noted yesterday, these awards signal ideas that can be incredibly helpful for other jurisdictions seeking new ways to open up their elections to new approaches and innovations. Congratulations to all the awardees – I also don’t think the EAC is finished with these honors, so stay tuned!

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