In 2012, a federal court ordered the city's board of Elections to make all of its poll sites accesible to the handicapped, but four years later, NY1 has learned that the board is still struggling to meet the court's mandate, meaning tens of thousands of disabled New Yorkers could have tough time at the polls on Tuesday. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Dustin Jones confronts a small obstacle every time he goes to vote.
"It's a polling place for me particularly," Jones said. "And there is a hump, which denies me access to the building."
He has been in a wheelchair since 2011. Every Election Day since, he has to confront the specter of the inaccessible poll site.
"They put a big, clunky metal ramp," Jones said.
In 2012, a federal court found the Board of Elections was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act because many poll sites were inaccessible. It ordered the board to survey sites and to create plans to make sites accessible to those with disabilities.
Years later, the board still isn't done.
"We have not finished going through all of the poll sites in terms of the surveying," said Michael Ryan, executive director with the Board of Elections.
Over the course of years, a court-mandated consultant has finalized accessibility plans for just 59 percent of the city's poll sites, 706 out of 1,205. A board official tells NY1 a handful of sites have not been reviewed at all. Hundreds of other reports are in "draft form."
The surveys are supposed to provide a blueprint for how to make poll sites accessible, detailing issues the board has to fix, like a small wooden lip by the door, otherwise a large barrier for a wheelchair.
The Board of Elections does not own any of these buildings, so they are not particularly interested in putting in permanent accessibility features. They say these buildings have been this way for decades. That means they install quick fixes like ramps.
Just about one-quarter of poll sites on Tuesday will get some sort of temporary fix.
"We are making every effort to bring the temporary remediations necessary to these poll sites," Ryan said.
That doesn't exactly appease those with disabilities.
"If we don't have access to vote," Jones said, "they won't even vote at all."