Florida county elections official: We don’t have to give voters access to bathrooms
An election official in Miami-Dade County responded to mounting criticism over bathroom access at polling sites by saying that access isn’t guaranteed at all, the Miami Herald reported.
“There’s no legal requirement for us to provide bathroom access,” Chief Deputy Elections Supervisor Christina White was quoted as saying. “But we, as a courtesy to our voters, do when there is a bathroom at the polling place. That’s not always possible.”
White told the Herald that bathroom access will be provided at publicly-owned venues like libraries and city halls, churches and other “religious facilities” are exempt from requirements for bathroom use and parking and wheelchair-accessible ramps for voters.
County officials were accused of trying to stifle voter participation following emails sent to Marc Dubin, director of the non-profit Center for Independent Living of South Florida, an advocacy group for disabled Miami-Dade residents.
The Herald reported that Dubin received an email in August 2013 from deputy supervisor of elections for operations John Mendez stating that “in order to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not treated unfairly, the use of rest rooms by the voters is not allowed on election day.” Eight months later, Assistant County Attorney Shanika Graves emailed Dubin saying the policy “was implemented to avoid situations where accessible restrooms would be available to some, but not all voters.”
The emails stemmed from Dubin’s questions regarding poll and bathroom access for disabled voters in the state’s most heavily-populated county.
“This is a very clear way to suppress the vote,” Dubin told the Herald. “Telling people, ‘We have 12-hour lines but you can’t go to the bathroom?’ You can be guaranteed that people won’t come out to vote.”
[Image: “Voters At Polling Station In 2012 Presidential Election,” via Shutterstock]
[h/t Think Progress]