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Settlement Reached Between DOJ and Flint, Michigan to Make Voting AccessibleThe Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that a settlement has been reached with Flint, Michigan to provide access to voting facilities for persons with disabilities. The terms of the settlement say that all of Flint's polling places we'll be accessible in time for the November 2012 elections.
Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service brought the complaint to DOJ. As a result, the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Michigan worked together to conduct a survey which showed a substantial number of the city's polling places were not wheelchair accessible. This would make voting almost impossible for voters in those areas. Facing a federal lawsuit, the City of Flint agreed to the settlement and agreed that accessibility would play a major role in the selection of future polling facilities.
"Voting is the foundation of democracy. This agreement will help ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to cast their votes at polling places, alongside their neighbors, and have their voices heard." said Barbara L. McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
The city now needs to find 7 new facilities that are or can be outfitted to be accessible. MLive.com reports City Clerk Inez Brown downplayed the findings of the study. "(That's) making it out to be more than it is," Brown said. "When I saw the press release I was as surprised as everyone else." She claimed the violations were minor and applauded the facilities that had been provided even if they weren't up to today's accessibility standards.
The voting facilities in violation will remain that way during the August primary election.
New Graduate School for Global Inclusion and Social Development of Persons with Disabilities - UMass