Looking for Polling Place Experiences from People with Disabilities

Independent Perspective 1775 with Ericka Miller on Looking for Polling Place Experiences from People with Disabilities.  

Host: Welcome to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of Western New York Independent Living (WNYIL). Our guest today is Ericka Miller, systems advocate with Independent Living of Niagara County (ILNC), and I'm your host, Ernie Churchwell. Welcome to the program, Ericka.  

Guest: Thank you for having me, Ernie. 

Host: And as we record this, it has been not that long since we had voting day and that has always been something of a challenge for people with disabilities, although recent laws have required accessible ballot marking devices and whatnot in all polling places in New York State, which has eased things. But something tells me all experiences have not been the land of milk and honey, so the saying goes. And you'd like to find out from people what their experiences were like, I believe. What is your pitch to people to contact you? 

Guest: Yes. So, as we have just had Election Day, we want to know what your experiences are as Ernie said. Whether it's good or bad, whether you were unable to vote at all because of inaccessibility at the pole, we want to know. So, if you would send me your voting experiences by phone or by email. I'm the system advocate here at the WNYIL. My email is emiller@wnyil,org or if it's easier to call, the number would be 716-284-44131 ext. 221. 

Host: Alright, by any chance could you give people a taste of what sort of experiences you've already heard about and that they might want to enlarge on with their personal stories? 

Guest: Absolutely. So, if you for instance have found that you went to your polling site and the individuals who are running the site are not well-educated on the ballot marking devices that you would need to accommodate for disability then that would be something that I would like to know. If you got to your polling site and found that you couldn't get inside because the location was not wheelchair accessible or was not accessible to you in another way related to disability, that is also something I would like to know. 

But on the flip side, if your experience went great, you found the site was fully accessible, that the staff was very well versed in disability and helpful. Those are also things I would like to know because nobody wants to hear all of the negative. You know, we need to know when things are going well as well. 

Host: And there can be a variety of complications in voting. As you probably know, Erie County and one or two others across New York State use the ES&S AutoMARK ballot marking device. The rest of them use the ImageCast by is, it was it the Dominion Voting systems? 

Guest: Dominion, correct. 

Host: Whose name has become kind of famous because of a bunch of bogus information spread by, put out by conspiracy theory theorists that they had been hacked to produce non correct results from the 2020 presidential election, which people have largely tended to decline. 

Now, a little experience of my own. A few years back when I was using the ES&S voting machine when it wasn't that familiar. I sat down to use it and I couldn't find a place to stick my ballot into the machine.  They had forgotten to flip down the little access drawer on the compartment. Would you believe we're totally out of time if you could repeat your number for people to call. 

Guest: Absolutely. You can reach me at 716-284-4131, ext. 221. 

Host: Thanks so much for being with us, Erica. 

Guest: Thank you, Ernie. 

Host: Our guest has been Ericka Miller, systems advocate with ILNC, and I've been your host, Ernie Churchwell.