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Secretary Pate wins national award for improving accessibility for voters with disabilities
Paul D. Pate
Secretary of State
State Capitol
Des Moines, IA 50319
Iowa Secretary of State Seal WEBSITE:
Kevin Hall
Communications Director
(515) 725-2942
March 4, 2021

MEDIA RELEASE: Secretary Pate wins national award for improving accessibility for voters with disabilities

DES MOINES – For the second time in three years, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate earned a national award for his efforts to help Iowans with disabilities vote. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) announced Thursday that the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office is the recipient of the 2020 Clearie Award for Improving Accessibility for Voters with Disabilities.

Secretary Pate partnered with Disability Rights Iowa to create the Voting Accessibility Quick Check booklet for every polling place in the state ahead of the 2020 general election. It is a tool for precinct election officials to use to ensure polling places meet American Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and to quickly recognize and fix any accessibility issues that may arise on Election Day.

“We’re constantly looking at ways to improve accessibility for Iowans with disabilities. This booklet is another important step in the ongoing process,” Secretary Pate said. “The key to ensuring polling places are accessible is providing poll workers with the tools in a format that is easy to follow. We accomplished that objective with the Quick Check Guide.”

The booklet includes information about accessible voting equipment, spacing, signage, and can be used as measuring tool. The panels in the easy-fold guide provide the necessary measurements for outside and inside the polling place.

“This year we are pleased to receive a record-breaking number of 137 Clearie submissions, more than tripling the 2019 submissions,” said EAC Chairman Donald Palmer. “The number of Clearie submissions highlights that even though this was a challenging election year, officials continue to modernize and develop programming that will serve as helpful best practices for the coming years. The job of an election official is never done.”

A recent EAC study shows election officials made great progress serving voters with disabilities in 2020 and ensuring they could cast a private and independent ballot.

Secretary Pate received the 2018 Clearie Award from the EAC for his Helping Veterans and Iowans with Disabilities Vote initiative.

“We are thrilled that our work to improve election accessibility in Iowa with the Secretary of State’s office has been recognized by the EAC. We hope that our Quick Check booklet can be used by other states to improve election accessibility for more voters with disabilities,” said Annie Matte, communications and voting outreach coordinator with Disability Rights Iowa.

All Iowa polling places are inspected for general ADA compliance. The Voter Accessibility Quick Check booklet is an additional resource for precinct election officials to have on hand to ensure the polling place stays accessible throughout Election Day.

“I’d like to thank my staff for their work on this project and also thank Disability Rights Iowa for their partnership in getting these booklets produced,” Secretary Pate said. “We will continue to work on ways to help all eligible Iowans make their voices heard by voting.”

On February 17, the EAC conducted a panel to discuss “Accessibility Lessons Learned During the 2020 Elections”. Iowa’s State Elections Director Heidi Burhans participated in the panel. Participants praised the Quick Check Guide and Iowa’s efforts to improve accessibility for voters with disabilities. A video clip from that panel discussion is available for your use here (1:27:40 mark).

You can view the entire Voting Accessibility Quick Check booklet at this link.

A soundbite from Secretary Pate is available for your use at this link.