Protection and advocacy stands up for voting rights

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The Advocacy Center filed a class action lawsuit June 4 against the Jefferson Parish in Louisiana for failure to provide polling sites accessible to people with disabilities, in violation of the standards for accessible design required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The lawsuit was filed in response to complaints from Denise Drake, a registered voter in the parish for more than 30 years, who uses an electric wheelchair, according to a news release from The Advocacy Center. Her neighborhood polling site has a ramp that is “excessively steep” and does not have a handrail on one side.

Following Drake’s complaint, the Advocacy Center surveyed 69 polling places in the area. It found that 78 percent of the sites had “barriers to individuals with mobility impairments.”

As a result, the parish has the “purpose or effect of defeating or substantially impairing the accomplishments and objectivities of the voting program with respect to” people with disabilities, according to the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of all registered voters in the parish.

The Advocacy Center is part of the federally funded protection and advocacy system and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.