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Feds say Augusta County needs to make polling places more accessible to disabled voters


STAUNTON, Virginia — The U.S. Department of Justice has told Augusta County it needs to make the vast majority of its polling places more accessible to voters with disabilities.

The News Virginian reports ( ) Rebecca Bond, the chief of the disability rights section at the DOJ, wrote to the county last week about the issue. Bond says 21 of the county's 25 voting precincts violate the Americans With Disabilities Act by denying persons with disabilities access on election day.

A citizen complaint led to a July 2013 investigation into the issue, Bond said.

The investigation found that non-compliant elements were found at 21 of the voting precincts. Nineteen of those polling places can be remedied with temporary measures, but Bond said the county must relocate the polling place at Crimora United Methodist Church and make permanent architectural modifications at the Augusta County Government Center.

Both Augusta County Attorney Pat Morgan and chairwoman of the Augusta County Electoral Board Ruth Talmage said the county will work with the department to fix the access issues, which include proper entrance and parking locations.

The electoral board has requested a county committee be appointed to deal with issues. The committee plans to visit each of the polling places in question to determine what actions are needed.

Funding for the precinct improvements will come from either the Augusta County contingency fund or the county's construction-in-progress account, assistant to the county administrator Candy Hensley said.

Information from: The News-Virginian,

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