101st Assembly District
Kevin Cahill

Room 557 LOB, Albany, NY 12248 · (518) 455-4436
Governor Clinton Building, One Albany Ave., Suite G-4
Kingston, NY 12401 · (845) 338-9610

For Immediate Release
Date: November 2004
Contact: Kathy Keyser
(845) 338-9610

Assemblymember Cahill's Able Column
Assembly Fights for Accessible Voting for All
November 2004

As Chair of the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities and a member of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Joint Conference Committee, I want to reaffirm the New York State Assembly's commitment to ensuring that people with disabilities in this state are able to vote privately and independently. The Assembly has worked relentlessly this year to solve the problems of inaccessible polling places and voting machines. We have been striving to implement all of the requirements set forth in HAVA, which states that all voting systems must be accessible to people with disabilities.

However, to my great frustration, our efforts to provide equal access at the polls on Election Day have been met with little cooperation from our colleagues in the Senate. I was hopeful when the HAVA Joint Conference Committee was established that it would provide an appropriate public venue for our differences to be negotiated. Unfortunately, my goals have not yet seen the light of day.

Please be assured that the Assembly is still committed to fighting for our legislative measures that are aimed at improving access to New York's voting system for people with disabilities. The bills that we stand behind include:

  • Accessible Polling Places A.5473 (Cahill) - Requires polling places to be accessible to physically disabled voters and establishes basic accessibility guidelines to ensure consistency and encourage substantial compliance at polling sites.

  • Accessible Voting Machines A.8847 (Wright) - Enacts the "voting systems standards act of 2003" and repeals certain provisions of the election law relating to voting machines. Specifically, this bill establishes new standards for voting machines and ensures that at least one voting machine that includes an audio prompt voting feature, hand held voting device and a sip-and-puff mechanism will be available in each polling place.

The Assembly has spent a significant amount of time and effort trying to convince the Senate to commit to these issues and others, all to no avail. On February 23, 2004 the Assembly passed the above-mentioned measures and, unfortunately, the Senate still appears to be standing firm in its lack of interest in improving access to polling places and voting machines for people with disabilities.

We have done everything in our capacity as legislative colleagues to persuade the Senate to right this blatant wrong. Now it is up to you, New York's disabilities advocates, to demand that your voices are heard and your votes are counted. I have great faith in your ability to communicate the importance of this issue in an appropriate manner. I urge you to contact your local Senator and insist that New Yorkers with disabilities be given the same opportunities to vote as every other resident. Together, let's bring the Senate back to the negotiating table to make sure that every person who wishes to vote privately and independently can exercise this right that makes our country the greatest nation in the world.

Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill, Chair
New York State Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities