Disabled disenfranchised in recent election

April 15, 2014

Let me make it clear from the outset that I voted for the Cape Henlopen referendum to build a new school. I am happy it passed for all the reasons in Mr. Flood's article and more.

However, I was shocked at the board of election's policy of only advertising in the Cape Gazette through the school system regarding the availability of absentee ballots. It is hard to believe that in 2014, many years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, that there is no effort on the part of the Board of Elections to provide a reasonable accommodation to the disabled and indeed to some of our homebound and elderly as well and to, in fact, all citizens of the voting district by mailing the offer of absentee ballot to registered voters' homes.

If one does not have the finances or other means to purchase a Cape Gazette, or there is no transportation to the polls for citizens who are unable to drive due to their physical disabilities, could these persons exercise their right to vote?

The reason I was given for not doing a mailing was money. First, the U.S. Postal Service provides lower rates for board of elections, and second, some of the revenue from the increase in taxes could be earmarked for this need. Money is not an acceptable excuse.

The ADA's goal was to provide equal accessibility for persons with disabilities through reasonable accommodations. I believe this was not done for the Cape Henlopen referendum election. Perhaps we should let the Attorney General of Delaware decide based on the federal law.

Irene Paonessa
director of special education, retired

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