Reconsider Harsh ADA Enforcement

Shutting down seven of a Georgia county’s nine election polling places was bound to raise a stink. Perhaps the outside consultant who recommended it ought to take a refresher course in American history.

Election officials in Randolph County, Ga., are between a rock and a hard place. They have been ordered by the U.S. Department of Justice to make polling places compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Two of the sites have been upgraded to comply with the ADA. County officials say they do not have enough money to remodel the others. So, earlier this month, they considered closing them.

That would have brought the county into ADA compliance — but it also would have restricted severely the ability of some voters to get to the polls.

In a county where, at one time, there were active efforts to keep black voters from participating in elections, that is a problem. The proposal to close seven polling places was met with a firestorm of protests.

So the county election board, composed of one black woman and one white man, discussed the idea for a grand total of 30 seconds before rejecting it.

That was more than appropriate. It was a necessity.

Officials still are not certain how they will handle the ADA issue, which has been a problem in many areas, including ours. Some Ohio Valley polling places have been closed because of compliance challenges.

Perhaps federal officials eager to crack down hard on ADA violators should consider this: Which is preferable? Giving a county more time, and perhaps some funding, to bring voting sites into compliance — or having some shut down entirely, denying their use to everyone?


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