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Survey Results on Polling Place Accessibility in the 2012 ...

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Survey Results on Polling Place Accessibility in the 2012 Elections
Presentation tothe Election Assistance Commission, Washington, D.C., May 9,2013Lisa Schur, Rutgers UniversityDouglas Kruse, Rutgers UniversityMeera Adya, Syracuse University
Voter turnout is generally low among people with disabilities
Disability turnout gap of 4-21 percentage points in12surveys over1992-2010Lowerturnout is only partly explained by standard voting predictors: resources (education and income), recruitment, and feelings of political efficacy=> Inaccessible polling places may play a role, both by making voting more difficult and possibly sending the message that people with disabilities are not welcome in the political sphere
2012 post-election survey
The Election Assistance Commissionprovidedfunds through Research Alliance for Accessible Voting (RAAV) for a nationally representative household survey on voting experiences following 2012 electionsTotal sample of 3,022, stratified to oversample people with disabilities so there are:2,000 people with disabilities1,022 people without disabilitiesSurvey was conducted by professional survey firm, Survey Technology and ResearchVoting questions based on U.S. Census, with added questions on voting difficultiesReported experiences by voters complement the GAO reports on potential barriers in polling places
Disability measure was based on Census Bureau questions# in sampleAny disability 2000Hearing impairment 501Visual impairment 410Cognitive impairment 742Mobility impairment 1347Wheelchair users 289Cane, crutches, or walker 857Difficulty inside home 486Difficulty going outside alone 893Limited in major life activities 1590
Reported difficulties among those voting at polling place in 2012
DisabilityNo disabilityFinding or getting to polling place 6% 2%Getting inside polling place (e.g., steps) 4% 0%Waiting in line 8% 4%Reading or seeing ballot 12% 1%Understanding how to vote or use votingeqt. 10% 1%Communicating with election officials 2% 1%Writing on the ballot 5% 0%Operating the voting machine 1% 1%Other type of difficulty 4% 1%Any of above 30% 8%
Examples of polling place difficulties from verbatim descriptions
Finding or getting to polling place: hard to get a ride, polling place not well marked, polling place movedGetting inside polling place: steps, walking distanceOperating voting machine: hard to pull handle, hard to see, machine too high, machine malfunctioned, didn’t know how to operate
Polling place difficulties by type of disability
Any type of voting difficulty in 2012among those withHearing impairment 27%Visual impairment 44%Cognitive impairment 43%Mobility impairment 31%Wheelchair users 41%Cane, crutches, or walker 28%Difficulty inside home 49%Difficulty going outside alone 43%Limitation in major life activities 34%=> Difficulties were highest among those with visual, cognitive impairments, and difficulty with activities inside home
Need for assistance at polling place
DisabilityNo disabilityNeeded any assistance if voted atpolling place in 2012 30% 11%If yes, who provided assistanceElection officials 42% 72%Family member 42% 19%Friend 9% 2%Home care aide 1% 0%Other 4% 5%Needed but none provided 3% 2%
Use of extra features or devices to vote in 2012
If have disability, used extra features or devices 7%If yes:What features or devicesLarge display 58%Magnifier or visual aid 33%Earphones 10%Seating/lowered machine 2%Other (special keypad,automark) 1%Features or devices were set up and ready to use 75%Election officials knew how to set up and usefeatures or devices 97%
Treatment by election officials
DisabilityNo disabilityElection officials were:Very respectful 86% 85%Somewhat respectful 8% 7%Neither respectful nordisrespectful 3% 5%Somewhat or verydisrespectful 3% 3%=> No difference by disability status
Overall ease or difficulty of voting at polling place
DisabilityNo disabilityVery easy 75% 87%Somewhat easy 18% 11%Neither easy nor difficult 1% 1%Somewhat difficult 3% 1%Very difficult 3% 1%=> Most people with disabilities report voting was easy, but 6% report it was difficult (higher than among people without disabilities)
Voting by mail
DisabilityNo disabilityIf voted in 2012, cast vote by mail 24% 16%If voted by mail:Any difficulty in reading orfilling out mail-in ballot 13% 2%Needed assistance incompleting mail-in ballot 11% 0%
If didnotvote at polling place in 2012, but did so sometime in past 10 yearsAny type of difficulty in voting at polling place among those withDisability 29%No disability 10%Pattern of difficulties very similar to those for 2012 voters
If didnotvote at polling place in past 10 years, would expect to have difficulties in voting
DisabilityNo disabilityFinding polling place 2% 0%Getting to polling place 13% 0%Getting inside polling place (e.g., steps) 7% 0%Waiting in line 3% 0%Reading or seeing ballot 6% 0%Understanding how to vote or use votingeqt. 10% 0%Other difficulty recording vote 4% 1%Any other problem 10% 0%Any of above 40% 1%
Preference for how to vote
Asked of all respondents (voters and non-voters)If you wanted to vote in the nextDisabilityNo disabilityelection, how would you preferto cast your vote?In person at polling place 58% 68%By mail 25% 14%On the Internet 10% 16%By telephone 5% 2%Don’t know 2% 1%=> People with disabilities are less likely to prefer voting at polling place, but still a majority want to do so
Overall:Some results arevery positive,such as no difference in treatment by election officials between people with and without disabilities,Nonetheless people with disabilities are still more likely to report and expect difficulties in exercising the right to vote.Questionsand feedback are welcome!

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Survey Results on Polling Place Accessibility in the 2012 ...