Monday, April 12, 2010

Disabled voters snubbed -

Disabled voters snubbed -

It is widely recognized that disabled Ontarians are poorly served when attempting to cast an election ballot. Barriers haven't yet been eliminated at many polling places, some of which feature multiple steps or doorways too narrow to accommodate a scooter.

As recently as the Toronto Centre by-election two months ago, one determined voter had to leave his wheelchair and grapple, with help, down a stairway to cast his ballot. Others struggled, too, to reach the ballot box at St. Joseph's College School. It's not known how many simply turned away.

This is frankly inexcusable.

Unfortunately, in Bill 231, a series of amendments to the Election Act now before the Legislature, the government ducks the accessibility issue. While stopping short of making it mandatory, the bill allows for possible deployment of "accessible voting equipment." However, the bill specifies that such gear must not be connected to any electronic network and must generate a paper ballot – features that seem to rule out alternatives such as voting by telephone, the same way that many people now do their banking.

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