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Lincoln School Polling Room to Return to Accessibility

Alameda County Registrar of Voters Dave Macdonald says that polling at Lincoln Middle School will be back in a large, fully accessible, room this November 6th.

Alameda County Registrar of Voters Dave Macdonald says that polling at Lincoln Middle School will return to a large, handicap accessible, room for the November 6th election. He was responding to concerns expressed about the setup at the school for the June 5th primary.

Alameda resident Carol Gottstein, MD provided Action Alameda News with a copy of a letter sent to the Registar of Voters, and to Susan Morse of the Alameda County Election Integrity Project, wherein she wrote:

“I was an Election Integrity Project observer for the first time during the June 2012 primary election in my home town of Alameda.

“Among the polling places I observed were 2 that were located in the same room = Lincoln School Media Center/Room 605 = #300300 & #300400. NEITHER of these is Handicapped-Accessible! Although there is ground-level entrance to the polling place, once inside there are risers/stairs on which the poll workers have no choice but to place the voting booths. Only 2-3 booths fit on the entry level floor. They are marginally accessible but not very private. Since there are 2 polling places in this one room, most of the floor space is occupied by the 2 scanners, 2 worker tables, etc. Having one polling place here is questionable at best; squeezing 2 in here is just absurd!

“NONE of these voting booths can be used by anyone who cannot climb stairs=wheelchairs, walkers, people with canes. There are no railings to assist voters who can climb stairs. This particular room was built in the 1960’s to maximize the use of a building footprint in fitting schoolchildren into a classroom, but it is totally unsuitable for adult-size voters.

“While I was there observing, I sat at a student’s school desk [all the desks were left in the room & simply pushed aside to accommodate the voting booths]. Unless I looked straight ahead, I could easily view the ballots of the voters in the booths next to me. Voters at booths on the upper stairs could easily view the ballots of the voters in the booths on the lower stairs. At one point, when both a power wheelchair and a woman with a baby stroller were inside at the same time [one at each different polling place], no one else could realistically enter to vote! The voters, poll workers & even the inspector voiced their discomfort and disapproval with the suitability of this location, especially since Lincoln School has other, more spacious rooms [library, auditorium] that could have been used instead.

“I just checked by personally visiting the school to see if the same room will be used for the November election. I was shown the same room & told that ‘the principal could move it into the library.’ But the principal will not be there at 6 am on Nov 6, nor does s/he likely have the authority to do so. This situation may have been going on for several voting cycles. I hope it is not too late to move these two polling places into a more suitable room at the same Lincoln School.

“Thank you for this opportunity to help ensure lawful, accessible voting.”

Mr. Macdonald responded to both Ms. Gottstein and Action Alameda News, writing, “thank you for your e-mail expressing your concerns about the polling place in Alameda. Due to a last minute change prior to the June election we were forced to use a different room than we usually use. For this election we are going to be using the room that had been used in prior elections. It is quite a large room, approximately 40×47, and is fully accessible.”

He also provided the picture of the room, above.

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