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Independence First joins Milwaukee in making voting more accessible

Posted at 11:53 AM, Feb 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-18 13:41:18-05

MILWAUKEE — For people with disabilities, getting to the voting booth can be challenging.

"Maybe they've been met with stairs or locked doors if they have to go to the side or maybe a lift gets broken," said Marci Boucher, CEO of Independence First.

That's why Independence First, Located at 540 South 1st Street in the Walker's Point neighborhood, is joining the growing list of polling locations that have accessible voting machines.

Independence First is a non-profit organization that has zero-threshold entryways, hallways that are wide and two-tone shading on the floors for people with low vision. Those features, and many others, help accommodate voters who may be in wheelchairs, hard of hearing or hard of seeing.

During the state and local primary elections on Tuesday, the building became a polling location for the very first time.

From 7 a.m. until 8 p.m., voters who live in District 12, Wards 235 and 240, had an opportunity to vote there.

Some voters had the opportunity to use machines, provided by the City of Milwaukee, that were equipped with features to aid people with disabilities in filling out their ballots.

The machines were low and wide and had braille, headsets that gave instructions and font-size changing keyboards.

These accommodations help to make sure everyone, with or without a disability, had a chance to participate in the state and local primary elections.

"Every voice does count and if you can't express things that are a disparity for you or that you're struggling with, then you can't make change in the community, so it's very important that everyone has a voice," said Boucher.

Independence First will be a polling location for that general election on April 7th. The presidential primary election will also be on April 7th.

This is a clear push for more accessibility during a busy state, local and presidential election year.

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