Legislation


United Spinal’s Victory in Federal Appellate Court Decision Benefits NY City Voters with Disabilities

A recent news release announced that United Spinal Association and Disabled in Action won a unanimous panel decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which found the Board of Elections in New York City (BOE) discriminated against voters with disabilities by failing to make its poll sites accessible to voters with disabilities on Election Day. The two organizations served as plaintiffs on behalf of all New Yorkers of voting age with mobility or vision disabilities.

Among its findings, the Court reportedly stated “By designing inaccessible poll sites and failing to assure their accessibility through temporary equipment, procedures, and policies on election days, BOE denies plaintiffs meaningful access to its voting program.”

The release notes that the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s order, which found that the Board of Elections failed to remedy widespread barriers at its poll sites throughout the City on Election Day. This, the release says, included dangerous make-shift ramps, steps leading to poll sites, blocked paths of travel, and locked accessible entrances.

James Weisman, VP, and general counsel of United Spinal Association, articulates his pride in the decision, “I am very pleased that the Court has recognized how important it is for persons with disabilities to be able to exercise the fundamental right to vote…”

As stated in the release, the Court of Appeals also affirmed the remedial plan ordered by the trial court, which requires the Board of Elections to designate a disability-coordinator at each poll-site on Election Day and to coordinate with an outside accessibility consultant to survey the 1,300 polling sites in New York City. It also called on the Board of Elections to remove access barriers where appropriate or pinpoint alternate accessible locations to replace inaccessible poll sites.

The order was entered following the district court’s granting of summary judgment to plaintiffs-appellees, finding that defendants-appellants had violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Source: United Spinal Association