Disability Advocates Worried Some Voters Could Be Disenfranchised In Maricopa County

Published: Monday, September 28, 2020 - 8:47am
Updated: Monday, September 28, 2020 - 8:48am

People with disabilities often face barriers to voting in Arizona. Case in point: Cochise County tried to prohibit voters from accessing curbside voting.

Some disability advocates are worried that those who need help marking their ballot could be disenfranchised in Maricopa County.

We know the risks from COVID-19 disproportionately impact people with disabilities. We also know that reasonable accommodations must be provided to ensure equal access to the ballot.

Which is why on Friday, Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes sought a court order to utilize videoconferencing to help people in long term care mark their ballot. State law allows for special election boards composed of one Republican and one Democrat to assist voters.

Sey In is a staff attorney at the Arizona Center for Disability Law.

"The special elections board is definitely like an accommodation, it's something that many people with disabilities could rely on so that they aren't disenfranchised."

Fontes used videoconferencing to help 10 voters cast ballots in the August primary.

Stigma is another huge barrier facing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), and it can lead to a person being disenfranchised. In says sometimes poll workers are not trained to work with people with disabilities.

“They come and see individuals with IDD, who seek to cast a vote. For example, someone with Down syndrome," said In. "So the law says that unless you're under guardianship, and under guardianship, then you are still allowed to cast your vote, you are your own person.”

In says poll workers should presume competence and if the individual needs assistance, it should be provided. 

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