A bill guaranteeing access for the disabled at polling places has been delivered to the governor’s desk for signing. The legislation requires all voting locations to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and exempts disabled persons from time limits at voting machines. In addition, disabled voters are guaranteed assistance in casting their ballots, among other provisions. The bipartisan measure passed with nearly unanimous support in the Ohio House and Senate. Sen. Shirley Smith, a Cleveland Democrat, jointly sponsored Senate Bill 10 with Republican Sen. Bill Coley of Liberty Township. Lawmakers have touted the legislation as an example of welcome cooperation between political parties.
“It doesn’t burden voters with any new requirements,” Smith said. “I think everyone is sympathetic and sensitive to people with disabilities. We want to make sure that people with disabilities are able to get to the polls because that is their right.”
But that does not mean all legislators are reaching across the aisle.
Rep. Kathleen Clyde, a Kent Democrat, said the legislation is a ruse meant to imitate bipartisanship. Clyde proposed amendments to the bill she said would put Ohio in compliance with some federal laws it ignores, but GOP legislators blocked her efforts.
“The bill really doesn’t do anything because we already have to follow” the Americans with Disabilities Act, she said. “So I tried to make the bill do something, saying, ‘Hey, how about these federal laws we aren’t following?’ And, of course: tabled.”