Utah Advocates Push For Changes In Voting Proposals
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 28, 2005
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH--Utah's Disability Law Center supports proposed bills in the state legislature that attempt to make voting more accessible to all voters, including those with disabilities.
But the agency says the measures need significant changes in order to make polling places and the voting process fully accessible.
According to Tuesday's Deseret News, the current proposals call for voters to present, at the time of voting, certain forms of identification that contain the person's name and photograph. The legislation would also make it possible for counties to reduce the number of polling places.
DLC advocate Liz McCoy said the state's Protection and Advocacy agency wants the law rewritten to allow for more types of identification, because many people with disabilities -- particularly those living in group homes or housed in nursing facilities or state-run institutions -- may not have access to the ID required under the proposal.
McCoy said DLC is also pushing for language in the bills to, among other things, require voting places to be closer together and nearer to accessible public transportation stops.
"If you read (the legislation) as it's written, a county could allow one polling place per county, which we feel would be detrimental to voters -- especially those in rural counties and those with disabilities who might not own a car and where there is not sufficient public transportation," McCoy said.
The bills' author, state Representative Douglas C. Aagard, told the Deseret News he is open to working with the advocacy group to address their concerns.
"If it's feasible and it makes sense, we'll look at doing it," he said. "The whole thing is to get it out to the voters. We're coming leaps and bounds from where we were as far as helping the disabled."
"Disabled voters speak up" (Deseret News)