Accessible polling stations are an important part of ensuring that persons with disabilities are able to participate in elections on an equal basis as others. However, many polling stations are located in areas that are difficult to reach, have inaccessible structures that makes it challenging to safely enter the polling room, or do not have adequate lighting, which makes it hard to read ballots.
Conducting an accessibility assessment of polling stations beforehand is a good opportunity to examine and improve the physical environment for all voters. As an added bonus, schools are used as polling stations in many countries, so improvements to their infrastructure will have the benefit of making the school accessible for children and teachers with disabilities.
The Checklist for Assessment of Polling Station Accessibility (available for download below) is a helpful tool for election management bodies and civil society organizations to determine the level of accessibility of potential polling stations before Election Day. It is based on international standards of accessibility, including the guidelines established by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) from the United States and includes sections on:
- Polling station location
- Building entrance
- Getting to the polling room
- Polling room