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Polling places get ADA upgrades

With the 2014 general election races looming, four cities and townships in Becker County have been given funding to make handicap accessibility improvements to their polling places.

“Providing accessible polling places is vital to ensure everyone has equal access when casting their ballot,” says Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. “These funds support important projects to eliminate barriers at the polling place.”

Election Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities (EAID) grants have been awarded to the Becker County cities of Callaway and Lake Park, as well as the townships of Pine Point and Two Inlets.

Callaway received $350 and Lake Park, $239, for assistance in the purchase of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant voting booths that will be accessible to disabled voters.

Two Inlets Township was awarded a total of $1,830 for the purchase of an ADA-compliant door opener for greater ease of access for voters with disabilities.

Pine Point Township has been awarded $1,760 for multiple improvements, including:

  • The purchase of two ADA-compliant voting booths ($380 each);
  • The purchase of one secrecy shield for the AutoMARK assistive voting device, so those with disabilities who use the AutoMARK to assist them in casting their ballot can do so while knowing their voting choices will have the same level of anonymity as other voters ($100);
  • The purchase of two ADA-compliant doors that are accessible for disabled voters ($732 each);
  • Cost of installing the ADA-compliant doors and repairs to the existing handicap accessibility ramp ($549).

Also receiving EAID grants in Otter Tail County were the city of Vergas ($215) and Hobart Township ($578), for purchasing ADA-compliant voting booths.

A total of 44 Minnesota cities, townships and counties were awarded the federal grant funds, totaling $126,464.

Proposals submitted for the grants were reviewed by a committee including representatives from the Minnesota Association of Townships, League of Minnesota Cities, Minnesota State Council on Disability and National Federation of the Blind.

According to Nathan Bowie, communications director for the Secretary of State’s Office, once the entities are notified that they will be receiving a grant, “each jurisdiction works with the office on a contract, once that contract is complete, the jurisdiction can start their projects.”

All of the entities receiving the grants have until Aug. 8 — in advance of the statewide election primaries on Aug. 12 — to complete the projects, Bowie said.

After the work is complete, each city, township or county must submit documents verifying that the work has been done according to specifications, after which they will be reimbursed for the grant amount by the Secretary of State’s Office.

Follow reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454