Photograph by Steven Higgs

Bloomington activist Randy Paul has asked the federal government to force the State of indiana to make its polling places accessible to citizens with disabilities.

After seven years of struggling with Monroe County officials over polling places that violate federal laws governing access for citizens with disabilities, Randy Paul filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., to force action.

In an e-mail, Paul said he did not file the complaint specifically against Monroe County after meeting with the County Commissioners.

"I agreed not to file a complaint against them if they agreed to never again approve a polling site that violated HAVA when an alternate is available that complies with HAVA," he wrote, referring to the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

His dealings with the Secretary of State office were another matter, however. Their response was, in Paul's terms, a "we-don't-get-many-complaints version of enforcement."

"I realized the real problem rests with State, and the lack of leadership there on this issue," he wrote. "The Justice Dept. recently filed suit against the state of New York for not complying with the Act, so why not Indiana?"

In addition to his concerns about accessible voting in Monroe County, Paul said he is "also concerned about the 91 other counties who have disabled voters without accessible polling sites. In the 2004 inspection of polling sites state-wide showed 97 percent were not in full compliance with the ADA/HAVA. I think that's a problem worth solving."

Below is the cover letter Paul submitted with his complaint.

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April, 14, 2011

Dear Sirs/Madam,

I have been trying since 2004 to get Monroe County to follow the HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT, with very little success. I have gone from elected officials denying their responsibility, refusing to appoint a task force, which is required under HAVA.
"I am convinced we will never see HAVA implemented without some Federal action." - Randy Paul complaint
I have included in this package the work I have done so far, and what I am still trying to do for this year’s city-wide elections.

The real problem is not as much Monroe County, as it is with the State of Indiana, specifically the Secretary of State. I’ve attached an article from our local newspaper THE HERALD TIMES where an official from the Secretary of State claims accessible voting is not a problem because “we don’t get a lot of complaints." Even with taking Federal HAVA funds there is not a single voting site in Monroe County that complies with the Help America Vote Act…….NOT ONE.

I am convinced we will never see HAVA implemented without some Federal action. I have spent so much time trying to get Accessible voting in our county, but there are 91 counties in Indiana which are in worse shape than we are.

I urge you to do what you can to force the issue with State officials, hopefully the Secretary of State, because without State-wide leadership, HAVA will never be implemented. Thousands of voters are being denied their right to vote, and no one seems to care.

Sincerely

Randy G. Paul

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Steven Higgs can be reached at editor@BloomingtonAlternative.com.