Lafayette Parish early voting location questioned regarding accessibility

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – The Lafayette Mayor-President’s Awareness Committee for Citizens with Disabilities has learned the early voting location in downtown Lafayette has some accessibility issues that need to be dealt with.

The committee says the early voting site at 1010 Lafayette Street is the only early voting location in the parish.

In a letter to the committee, the League of Women Voters of Lafayette says the Registrar of Voters’ early voting location has insufficient handicapped-accessible parking.

The League explains that they found the “small lobby” on the ground floor becomes over-crowded with people in wheelchairs, using walkers or canes while waiting for “two small elevators.”

Those are a few of the League’s issues.

Committee member Jared Scott says accessibility is about being comfortable while using parish services like everyone else.

“People don’t think in a wheelchair about it being difficult to go through gravel and going up curbs,” adds Scott.

Scott says the huge crowds are impossible to maneuver in a wheelchair and the zig-zagging lines are no field trip either.  “We need other locations; on the Northside, the Southside or wherever,” says Scott.

Committee Chairperson Nell Hahn says people with disabilities should have the same voting access options as everyone else.  “It [early voting site] really doesn’t have a really good curb cut.  The parking is very restrictive.  It’s just not a good place,” says Hahn.

The committee is requesting an alternate early voting site or move the location that’s being used.  “It will take some additional funding which we think the parish should cover.  Really, this is not optional.  This is legally required.  We are saying do what’s required,” says Hahn.

The League of Women Voters adds that “eleven other parishes smaller in population in Lafayette, including St. Martin and St. Mary Parishes have more than one early voting station.”

The committee says the issues of early voting have been presented to the council.