PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced that his Office has launched a review of all polling places in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to determine if they are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The initiative is in accordance with the federal government’s congressionally-mandated responsibility to review compliance with the ADA; it is not in response to any specific complaint against a county or individual polling location.
As part of the review, election officials in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, and Philadelphia counties are being asked to complete survey questions pertaining to polling place accessibility in their county. Investigators may then conduct on-site inspections to confirm survey responses and to evaluate compliance with federal ADA regulations. Counties found to be non-compliant will have the option of resolving issues informally, and if that effort fails, entering into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement with the government whereby they voluntarily agree to upgrade their facilities and address issues in order to meet ADA requirements before the November 2020 election. Counties found to be engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination, or that fail to enter into Voluntary Compliance Agreements, may face a civil lawsuit brought by the government and/or be subject to penalties, including monetary penalties and civil fines.
The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all programs, activities, and services provided by public entities. The ADA requires that public entities provide voting facilities that are accessible to people with disabilities.
“People with disabilities who live in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania deserve equal access to polling places and we are committed to making sure that they have it,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, so there can be no doubt that counties have had more than enough time to ensure that their polling places provide full access to individuals with disabilities. We will take all reasonable steps within our power to ensure that any counties that fall short of compliance make the necessary changes in time for the 2020 election.”
Any citizen with polling place concerns in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania is encouraged to contact Assistant United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero, Civil Rights Coordinator, at 215-861-8200.