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article imageDisabled Indiana Man Turned Away From The Polls For Exercising Disability Rights

By Nikki Weingartner     Nov 4, 2008 in Politics
Voters with disabilities in Indiana may not get the voting rights to which they are entitled, as one man was turned away from early voting in Indiana. The reason for denying him early voting rights? Modifications for disabled only apply on Election Day.
A 50-year-old blind man was denied early voting rights because an Indiana law is unclear about satellite voting locations.
The disabled man and his wife headed out, exercising their right to vote this past weekend at a shopping center satellite voting location in Terre Haute, Indiana. Because of Steve Tschida's disability, he is legally entitled to a designee to help him cast his ballot.
However, according to the TribStar.com, he was turned away because voting officials at the site claimed that the law only applied to "Election Day" and at official "polling sites."
The law states that it applies to each precinct location as well as to absentee voting, but the law is not clear as to whether the law applies to satellite voting locations.
In 2004, Tschida had the same thing happen to him. He said in the report following an interview in his home that "The only thing I can say is that it just seems so unfair. I just don't understand in this day of equality and fairness in voting how this is the law."
And unfair it was, as many people, especially those with disabilities, utilize early voting and satellite locations to exercise their right to vote and lessen the burden upon them that non-disabled voters may not experience.
Peter Berg, Technical Assistance and Employer Outreach at the Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center of the Great Lakes ADA said in the report that in order to deny him, the government would have to show that Tschida's request would "fundamentally alter the nature of a program" or create an unnecessary burden and was further quoted as saying
"In terms of Title II of the ADA, I think there is a clear responsibility to modify their policies to ensure access."
The director of the Center for Planning and Policy Studies at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community felt that the situation was probably a result of law not being in line with satellite voting stations and that the state senator, Republican Patricia Miller is working with the Institute to make revisions to the law so that it is clear and applicable to early voting.
Disabled voters should not be confined to modifications only on Election Day voting.
A County Official defended their decision to turn away the disabled voter as policy and a legal decision that was essentially out of their control, claiming “A satellite location is not a polling place.” She further added that if the disabled voter was "really upset" then he could call the legislature and “ask them to try to get the law changed.” That official asked not to have her name mentioned.
An unclear law; legal policy; the definition of polling location and satellite location; and what appears to be an excusable level of rudeness towards a disabled man being forced into a long line on Election Day. The Americans with Disabilities Act may trump 'ol Indiana law in this case.
Tschida still plans on casting his ballot on Election Day.
Indiana voters can file their grievances about voting issues and fraudulent practices by calling the
Hoosier Voter Hotline at 1-866-IN-1-VOTE (1-866-461-8683)
More about Discrimination, Disabled, Voting
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