Secretary Pate provides grants to every county to improvement accessibility for voters with disabilities
DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is providing a $1,000 grant to every county in the state to improve voter access ahead of the 2022 general election. The grant is intended for counties to partner with local advocacy organizations and self-advocates to receive feedback on how polling places can be more accessible for Iowans with disabilities.
“I want all voters to have a positive experience when they cast their ballot,” Secretary Pate said. “Every polling place is required to be accessible, but we need to move past simple compliance. Inclusion begins in the planning stages and providing county auditors with the resources to work with local organizations to improve access will make sure every Iowan can easily navigate their polling place on Election Day.”
Approximately 300,000 Iowans have a disability. Counties can use the grant to improve accessibility considerations and receive communication, etiquette, and sensitivity training to understand the perspective of voters with disabilities.
“Voting can be challenging for people with disabilities,” said Bill Kallestad, public policy manager for the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council. “This grant opportunity is a great way to take steps to understand and address these challenges. Learning about voting challenges from people with disabilities can lead to meaningful change.”
Secretary Pate’s efforts to improve access for Iowans with disabilities have earned national recognition from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and the National Association of Secretaries of State.
“We are excited by the continued commitment to making voting accessible for Iowans with disabilities,” said Catherine Johnson, executive director for Disability Rights Iowa. “As the Protection and Advocacy system for Iowa, voting accessibility is one of our main focus areas. We are passionate about making sure Iowans with disabilities have the chance to share their opinions with all of Iowa through voting. We are grateful for the continued partnership with Secretary of State’s Office and their making this grant accessible to all counties in Iowa.”
The deadline for counties to request the grant funds is August 31 and the scope of work must be completed by the November 2022 general election.
A soundbite from Secretary Pate is available for your use at this link.