County Election Commissioner in NY Says Disabled Prefer Absentee Voting to Poll Voting

December 12, 2007

Advocate Writes Letter to Editor in Response

On November 27, the Daily Star of Oneonta, NY ran an article entitled "Poll access for disabled heats debate," in which Otsego County Democratic Elections Commissioner Hank Nicols stated that he felt installing a ballot-marking device in every polling station was excessive.

Nicols was quoted as saying, "I think that would be an enormous waste of money,'' and that most disabled people prefer to vote by absentee ballot, not in polling places. He also claimed that only one disabled person used the county's ballot marker in the last election.

"With so few people wanting to use ballot markers, we'd be better off driving them in limos to use the one we have," Nicols said.

The Response

Chris Zachmeyer, executive director of the Catskill Center for Independence, responded by stating that installation of accessible equipment should happen as quickly as possible because it is the law under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

On Thursday, disability advocate Lorraine Reichardt wrote a letter to the editor in response in which she wrote: "Saying people with disabilities prefer to vote by absentee ballot is ...preposterous. Disability advocates know the truth: A more-likely scenario is in years past voters with disabilities have been forced to vote that way because the polling sites themselves were inaccessible. "

Read the original article here and the letter to the editor in response below it.