The Clerk and Recorder’s Office is proud to announce that the Elections Department won the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) award for best practices in improving voting accessibility for persons with disabilities. The award recognizes the Department’s work in leveraging community relationships to expand resources for voters with disabilities.

In 2016, the Elections Department partnered with The Independence Center to identify specific challenges to voting accessibility for voters with disabilities, which include transportation to and from voting locations, and election judges not skilled in serving voters with disabilities. The Independence Center is a local non-profit organization serving individuals with disabilities and their families to support independent living.

In order to address the voting obstacles, The Independence Center trained election judges in disability etiquette for both the 2016 Primary and General Elections.

For the Presidential Election, The Independence Center operated for two days as a highly accessible voter service and polling center (VSPC). Staff at The Independence Center included American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, and election judges who had been specifically trained in disability etiquette. As at all VSPCs, voters could vote by paper ballot or on an electronic voting machine. The Independence Center was open to all voters, but focused on providing additional services for individuals with disabilities.

“Voting is a fundamental right, and my Office is committed to working with our community partners to address the needs of our citizens in exercising that fundamental right,” said Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman. “The Independence Center is a bridge for many in the disabled community, and we are honored to work with them to ensure greater accessibility for voters in El Paso County.”

Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman and Elections Manager Liz Olson, along with several Elections team members, participated in an open house in September 2016 to demonstrate the ease of using electronic voting machines. Students from the Colorado Springs School for the Deaf and the Blind were able to practice voting on accessible devices and register if needed. Over 450 voters used The Independence Center during its two days as a voter service and polling center. On Election Day, 188 of the 380 voters at The Independence Center used an electronic voting machine.

The Independence Center operated as a VPSC again this year for the 2017 Coordinated Election. Elections staff hosted another open house to demonstrate how to use the County’s new election equipment. El Paso County also produced its first ASL-interpreted sample ballot for the 2017 Coordinated Election. Only a handful of similar videos have been produced throughout the country.