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Inaccessible Polling Locations in Detroit and Dearborn

Yesterday, members of the People with Disabilities Voting Rights Coalition faced challenges at Detroit and Dearborn Polling locations. The Detroit Free Press spoke with Lisa Franklin, Executive Director of Warriors on Wheels, Dessa Cosma, Executive Director of Detroit Disability Power, and Margurite Maddoxx, board member of Warriors on Wheels, to share their experiences. See below fora brief excerpt from the article.

"Disabled voters reported problems at voting locations in Detroit and Dearborn, despite their efforts to address accessibility and other concerns with election officials over the past year.

“For us to work with them for over a year, we really expected much better results than what we saw today,” said Lisa Franklin, founder & CEO of Warriors on Wheels of Metropolitan Detroit.

Franklin – who uses a wheelchair – said she had to wait about 45 minutes to use the voting terminal for people with disabilities at St. Kateri Church in Dearborn. A poll worker had trouble working the voting machine, she said.

Franklin and her organization are part of the People with Disabilities Voting Rights Coalition. The coalition has been working with Detroit election officials to make them aware of persistent problems at polling locations for people with disabilities, such as nonworking elevators, narrow doorways, poll worker training on voting equipment designed for disabled voters and poll workers’ respectful treatment of voters with disabilities.

“Overwhelmingly, it doesn’t look like there was any improvement,” said Dessa Cosma, executive director of Detroit Disability Power.

Cosma voted at East English Village Academy in Detroit. She had a similar problem with poll workers’ training on the voting terminal for those with disabilities, she said. The poll worker did not have the correct code to get the machine working, Cosma said. She waited about 45 minutes.

“The code was actually changed between when she got the training and today,” Cosma said. “We’re not being treated as equal citizens.”

Marguerite Maddox, a board member for Warriors on Wheels, said she uses a walker and has a service dog. Maddox said she had to wait outside her voting location in Detroit for 15 minutes because the main entrance has a step.

“Every time I use this place, they don't have an accessible area set up right and there was no privacy -- and for me as a long-time citizen of the city of Detroit, we need to come up with something better and more accessible in November,” Maddox said."

If you or someone you know experienced inaccessible polling locations in Detroit, please take this survey This will help us improve accessibility in the future.


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