Polling Places

Posted on - Saturday, November 24th, 2012

There are just 5 days before we all get out and vote for President of the United States. Voting is a right that is protected for everyone who is eligible, including the disabled community. Polling places must be accessible. Even though they are temporary places, they are still a voting place and will require some form of access. The voter who is disabled must be able to have the same privacy as everyone else. The voter who is disabled must have access to the same ballot and the same method of voting as everyone else. So how does a polling place provide this access? The ADA website has a pamphlet that they put out in 2004 that explains how to provide access even when the polling place is only temporary. The Election Assistance Commission has a video that is also helpful for polling places to provide access. Below is a summary

Polling Places Accessibility requirements

A. Accessible parking or passenger drop off should be available


Passenger Drop Off

  1. Access aisle depth is at least 5′-0″
  2. Access aisle lenght is at least 20 feet
  3. Curb ramp connects access aisle to the accessible route to the accessible entrance of the polling places.




  1. Marked access aisle
  2. no more than 2% slope for both parking and access aisle
  3. Parking sign
  4. Accessible route from parking up to the entrance of the polling place

B. An Accessible route to the entrance


Route must be unobstructed

C. An accessible entrance to the voting site (It can be a temporary ramp)



  1. At least 36″ between handrails
  2.  Top landing part of the walk
  3. Bottom landing part of walk
  4. Handrails height 34″ to 38″
  5. Edge Protection

D. A route free from hazards


  1. Wall mounted drinking fountains are a hazard when the front projects more than 4″ beyond the wall and the bottom is more than 47″ above the floor
  2. Wall mounted objects cannot project more than 4 inches beyond the wall if the bottom is not in the cane-detectable area below 27 inches off the floor
  3. Overhead objects must be at least 80 inches off the floor

E. A route to the voting booth and to all the common spaces within the facilitya5d48364-45aa-4b80-b639-42e93a125aee


  1. Accessible route connects building entrance with the voting area, including voter check in and accessible voting machine
  2. Accessible route connects the accessible entrance with voting areas
  3. Accessible door and doorway to voting area,

Note: A turning space should also be provided. If there are deaf voters who need assistance, the blinds should be closed behind the check-in so voters who read lips can communicate with the voting staff.

F. Temporary Solutions for Election Day


If a polling area is not accessible, find an accessible space near the voting area. Counter or table where the voting is taking place should be between 28 in to 34 inches in height and a forward approach knee space should be provided

Everyone should go to their polling places and make sure there are facilities that are accessible for voters in wheelchairs, voters who are visually impaired as well as hearing impaired. Let’s try and make this election an accessible one.

Continuing Education Opportunities

November 2- International Facilities Managers Association Convention in San Antonio, Texas

November 7- provided by SSTL Codes 4 hr ADA seminar in Tulsa OK

If you want to learn more about the new Standards, The ADA Companion Guide explains the 2004 ADAAG Guidelines  with commentary and explanations throughout.  The 2004 Guidelines were adopted by the DOJ to create the 2010 Standards and by Texas to create the 2012 TAS.  This book explains the technical requirements for both.

 If you have any questions about these or any other topics, please feel free to contact me anytime.
Marcela Abadi Rhoads, RAS #240
Abadi Accessibility
214. 403.8714