The federal government says 11 of the 18 polling sites in Newton County need upgrades to continue to be used in future elections.
The Justice Department Tuesday reached a settlement under Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act with Newton County and the Newton County Election Commission to make the county’s polling sites more ADA compliant.
On March 3, 2020, federal officials inspected Newton County’s Election Day polling locations for the 2020 primary election and recorded that many of the sites were not ADA compliant. Infractions like a lack of accessible parking areas and pathways made inaccessible by gaps and level changes, as well as gravel and grass. It also identified ramps that were too steep, some without handrails and edge protection, and barriers inside polling places. Officials also noted a lack of ADA-accessible voting machines at all polling places, including early voting at the Newton County Courthouse.
The agreement reached Tuesday between the Justice Department, Newton County and its Election Commission identify the 11 polling locations that need ADA upgrades. Those sites are the Mt. Judea Fire Department; Whippoorwill Woodworks in Marble Falls; Western Grove City Hall; the Parthenon Fire Department; the Old Nursing Home in Jasper; the Swain Community Center near Deer; Low Gap Church in Jasper; The Deer Fire Department; the Ponca Fire Department; Log Hall Church in Vendor; and the Lurton Community Building near Pelsor.
In the agreement, the Election Commission and Newton County pledge to upgrade those polling locations to make them ADA compliant if the sites are used in future elections. The county will also provide an ADA-accessible voting machine at each polling place and designate an employee to serve as an ADA coordinator and provide training to election officials, poll workers and county employees.