This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-08-442T 
entitled 'Elderly Voters: Some Improvements in Voting Accessibility 
from 2000 to 2004 Elections, but Gaps in Policy and Implementation 
Remain' which was released on January 31, 2008.

This text file was formatted by the U.S. Government Accountability 
Office (GAO) to be accessible to users with visual impairments, as part 
of a longer term project to improve GAO products' accessibility. Every 
attempt has been made to maintain the structural and data integrity of 
the original printed product. Accessibility features, such as text 
descriptions of tables, consecutively numbered footnotes placed at the 
end of the file, and the text of agency comment letters, are provided 
but may not exactly duplicate the presentation or format of the printed 
version. The portable document format (PDF) file is an exact electronic 
replica of the printed version. We welcome your feedback. Please E-mail 
your comments regarding the contents or accessibility features of this 
document to Webmaster@gao.gov. 

This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright 
protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and distributed 
in its entirety without further permission from GAO. Because this work 
may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the 
copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this 
material separately. 

Testimony: 

Before the Special Committee on Aging, United States Senate: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
GAO: 

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 10:30 EST: 
Thursday, January 31, 2008: 

Elderly Voters: 

Some Improvements in Voting Accessibility from 2000 to 2004 Elections, 
but Gaps in Policy and Implementation Remain: 

Statement of Barbara D. Bovbjerg: 
Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security, and: 

William O. Jenkins: 
Director, Homeland Security and Justice: 

GAO-08-442T: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-08-442T, a testimony before the U.S. Senate Special 
Committee on Aging. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

Voting is fundamental to our democratic system, and federal law 
generally requires polling places for federal elections to be 
accessible to older voters and voters with physical disabilities. 
Following reports of problems encountered in the close 2000 
presidential election with respect to voter registration lists, 
absentee ballots, ballot counting, and antiquated voting systems, the 
Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) was enacted. Among other 
provisions, HAVA includes requirements for the accessibility of voting 
systems, effective January 1, 2006. 

In the past, GAO has published several reports on issues related to 
voting access for older voters. Our prior work, including on-site 
inspections of a national sample of polling places in election year 
2000, a comprehensive review of the election system in 2004, and a 
review of transportation issues facing seniors, has identified a number 
of potential barriers to voting for older Americans, as well as 
accommodations and progress in a number of areas. Drawing from prior 
work, GAO’s testimony will focus on (1) a variety of factors that 
affect the ability of older voters to travel to polling places, cast 
their votes in the voting room, or avail themselves of alternative 
voting provisions and (2) trends and changes regarding the 
accessibility of polling places and alternative voting methods. 

What GAO Found: 

Ensuring that older voters or other individuals with disabilities 
successfully cast their votes in an election requires that policymakers 
think broadly about access. This includes access with respect to 
transportation, polling places, voting equipment, and alternative 
voting methods. During the 2000 election, most polling places we 
inspected had one or more potential impediments that might prevent 
older voters and voters with disabilities from reaching voting rooms, 
although curbside voting accommodations were often made available. 
Additionally, our 2000 review of state provisions and practices related 
to accessible voting systems and accommodations in the voting room 
revealed that provisions to accommodate individuals with disabilities 
varied from state to state and may vary widely in their implementation. 
A 2004 GAO report also found transportation gaps in meeting the needs 
of seniors, which may create a barrier to voting for many elderly 
voters, and a lack of data on the extent of unmet needs. 

Since the passage of HAVA and the subsequent 2004 election, we have 
identified a number of reported efforts taken to improve voting access 
for people with disabilities. In particular, our 2006 report on 
election systems shows a marked increase in state provisions addressing 
the accessibility of polling places, voting systems, and alternative 
voting methods. However, the degree of change in accessibility is 
difficult to determine, in part because thousands of jurisdictions have 
primary responsibility for managing elections and ensuring an accurate 
vote count, and the complexity of the election system does not ensure 
that these provisions and reported practices are reflective of what 
occurs at polling places on election day. 

Understanding and addressing accessibility gaps represent enormous 
tasks for state and local election officials who are challenged by the 
multiplicity of responsibilities and requirements they must attend to 
within resource constraints. At the same time, as the population ages 
and the percentage of voters with disabilities expands, the expectation 
of accommodation and assistance to participate in this basic civic 
exercise will grow, making accessibility a key performance goal for our 
election community. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
[hyperlink, http://www.GAO-08-442T]. For more information, contact 
Barbara D. Bovbjerg at (202) 512-7215 or bovbjergb@gao.gov; or William 
O. Jenkins at (202) 512-8777 or jenkinsw@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

January 31, 2008: 

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee: 

We appreciate the opportunity to participate in today's hearing on 
older Americans' access to voting. Voting is fundamental to our 
democratic system, and federal law generally requires polling places 
for federal elections to be accessible to all eligible voters, 
including older voters and voters with physical disabilities. In 
particular, the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped 
Act requires that, with a few exceptions, local election jurisdictions 
assure that polling places used in federal elections are accessible, in 
a manner as determined by the state, to the elderly and voters with 
disabilities. These requirements can present a challenge to state and 
local election officials because achieving accessibility--which is 
affected by the type of impairment and various barriers posed by 
polling place facilities and voting methods--is part of a larger set of 
challenges they face in administering elections on a periodic basis. 
Following reports of problems encountered in the close 2000 
presidential election with respect to voter registration lists, 
absentee ballots, ballot counting, and antiquated voting systems, the 
Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) was enacted. Among others, HAVA 
contains provisions to help facilitate voting for individuals with 
disabilities, many of whom are also elderly, including requirements for 
the accessibility of voting systems used in elections for federal 
office, effective January 1, 2006, and authorizing the appropriation of 
funding for payments to states to improve the accessibility of polling 
places. 

Our testimony today will focus on a number of factors that affect the 
ability of older voters to travel to polling places, enter polling 
places, and cast their vote once they arrive in the voting room; or to 
avail themselves of alternative voting provisions, including absentee 
and curbside voting. It will also describe trends and changes regarding 
accessibility of polling places and alternative voting methods--as 
manifested in state provisions or reported in surveys and discovered 
during site visits--since the 2000 election. As agreed, our statement 
will draw from the broad array of prior work that has a bearing on 
voting access for older voters, including our 2001 report on 
accessibility of polling places for election year 2000,[Footnote 1] our 
2004 report on transportation-disadvantaged seniors,[Footnote 2] our 
2006 report covering a range of election issues as of election year 
2004,[Footnote 3] our 2007 testimony on electronic voting system 
challenges,[Footnote 4] and our 2008 report on bilingual voting 
assistance.[Footnote 5] The GAO reports on which this testimony is 
based were conducted in accordance with generally accepted government 
auditing standards. The scope of this testimony will not cover 
accessibility for older voters with cognitive impairments, nor will it 
cover registration challenges for older voters. 

Overall, our work prior to the 2004 general election--including on-site 
inspections of a national sample of polling places in election year 
2000 and a review of transportation issues facing seniors--has 
identified a number of potential barriers to voting for older 
Americans. We found transportation gaps in meeting the needs of seniors 
and lack of data on the extent of unmet needs. Significantly, we found 
that most polling places we inspected had one or more potential 
impediments for people with mobility impairments--only 16 percent had 
no impediments--although some provided for curbside voting. Since the 
passage of HAVA, and after the 2004 election, we surveyed state and 
local election jurisdictions and identified a number of reported 
efforts taken to improve voting access for people with disabilities. 
[Footnote 6] In particular, we found a marked increase in state 
provisions addressing accessibility of polling places and voting 
systems, and alternative voting methods, such as curbside and absentee 
voting. However, achieving accessibility in the polling place and with 
respect to voting systems is complicated by the fact that thousands of 
jurisdictions have primary responsibility for managing and conducting 
elections and ensuring an accurate vote count. We have not examined the 
extent to which the improvements reported by state and local election 
jurisdictions since November 2000 have been implemented and, thus, do 
not know the extent to which they have yielded improved accessibility 
of polling places and voting systems. 

Background: 

The proportion of older people in the United States who may face 
challenges exercising the right to vote is growing. As of 2003, there 
were almost 36 million individuals aged 65 or older (12 percent of the 
population), and the majority have at least one chronic health 
condition. By 2030, those aged 65 and over will grow to more than 20 
percent of the population. Disability increases with age, and studies 
have shown that with every 10 years after reaching the age of 65, the 
risk of losing mobility doubles.[Footnote 7] In many ways, lack of 
mobility and other types of impairments can diminish seniors' ability 
to vote without some assistance or accommodation. With increased age, 
seniors will become more limited in their ability to get to polling 
places by driving, walking, or using public transportation. Once 
seniors arrive at the polling places, they may face additional 
challenges, depending on the availability of accessible parking areas, 
accessibility of polling places, type and complexity of the voting 
equipment, availability of alternative voting methods (such as absentee 
voting), and the availability of voting assistance or aids. 

Responsibility for holding elections and ensuring voter access 
primarily rests with state and local governments. Each state sets the 
requirements for conducting local, state, and federal elections within 
the state. For example, states regulate such aspects of elections as 
ballot access, absentee voting requirements, establishment of voting 
places, provision of election day workers, and counting and certifying 
the vote. The states, in turn have typically delegated responsibility 
for administering and funding state election systems to the thousands 
of local election jurisdictions--more than 10,000 nationwide--creating 
even more variability among our nation's election systems. 

Although state and local governments are responsible for running 
elections, Congress has authority to affect the administration of 
elections. Federal laws have been enacted in several major areas of the 
voting process, including several that are designed to help ensure that 
voting is accessible for the elderly and people with disabilities. Most 
importantly, the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped 
Act (VAEHA), enacted in 1984, requires that political subdivisions 
responsible for conducting elections assure that all polling places for 
federal elections are accessible to elderly voters and voters with 
disabilities (with limited exceptions). Any elderly voter or voter with 
a disability assigned to an inaccessible polling place, upon his or her 
advance request, must be assigned to an accessible polling place or be 
provided with an alternative means for casting a ballot on the day of 
the election. Under the VAEHA, the definition of "accessible" is 
determined under guidelines established by each state's chief election 
officer, but the law does not specify what those guidelines shall 
contain or the form those guidelines should take. Additionally, states 
are required to make available voting aids for elderly and disabled 
voters, including instructions printed in large type at each polling 
place, and information by telecommunications devices for the deaf. The 
VAEHA also contains a provision requiring public notice, calculated to 
reach elderly and disabled voters, of absentee voting procedures. 

HAVA also contains a number of provisions designed to help increase the 
accessibility of voting for individuals with disabilities. For example, 
under HAVA, voting systems for federal elections must be accessible for 
individuals with disabilities in a manner that provides the same 
opportunity for access and participation as for other voters. To 
satisfy this requirement, each polling place must have at least one 
voting system equipped for individuals with disabilities. In addition, 
the Secretary of Health and Human Services is required to make yearly 
payments (in an amount of the Secretary's choosing) to each eligible 
state and unit of local government, and such payments must be used for 
(1) making polling places (including path of travel, entrances, exits, 
and voting areas) accessible to individuals with disabilities, and (2) 
providing individuals with disabilities with information about the 
accessibility of polling places. The Act also created the U.S. Election 
Assistance Commission (EAC) to serve, among other things, as a 
clearinghouse and information resource for election officials with 
respect to the administration of federal elections. For example, the 
EAC is to periodically conduct and make available to the public studies 
regarding methods of ensuring accessibility of voting, polling places, 
and voting equipment to all voters, including individuals with 
disabilities. Under HAVA, the EAC is also to make grants for carrying 
out both research and development to improve various aspects of voting 
equipment and voting technology, and pilot programs to test new 
technologies in voting systems. To be eligible for such grants, an 
entity must certify that it will take into account the need to make 
voting equipment fully accessible for individuals with disabilities. 

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), as amended, provides for voter 
assistance in the voting room. Specifically, the VRA, among other 
things, authorizes voting assistance for blind, disabled, or illiterate 
persons. Voters who require assistance to vote by reason of blindness, 
disability, or inability to read or write may be given assistance by a 
person of the voter's choice, other than the voter's employer or agent 
of that employer or officer or agent of the voter's union. 

Other laws also help to ensure voting access for the elderly and people 
with disabilities--albeit indirectly. For example, Title II of the 
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and its implementing 
regulations require that people with disabilities have access to basic 
public services, including the right to vote. However, it does not 
strictly require that all polling place sites be accessible. Under the 
ADA, public entities must make reasonable modifications in policies, 
practices, or procedures to avoid discrimination against people with 
disabilities. Moreover, no individual with a disability may, by reason 
of the disability, be excluded from participating in or be denied the 
benefits of any public program, service, or activity. State and local 
governments may comply with ADA accessibility requirements in a variety 
of ways, such as by redesigning equipment, reassigning services to 
accessible buildings or alternative accessible sites, or altering 
existing facilities or constructing new ones. However, state and local 
governments are not required to take actions that would threaten or 
destroy the historic significance of a historic property, fundamentally 
alter the nature of a service, or impose undue financial and 
administrative burdens. In choosing between available methods of 
complying with the ADA, state and local governments must give priority 
to the choices that offer services, programs, and activities in the 
most integrated setting appropriate. 

Title III of the ADA covers commercial facilities and places of public 
accommodation. Such facilities may also be used as polling places. 
Under Title III, public accommodations must make reasonable 
modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to facilitate 
access for individuals with disabilities. They must also ensure that no 
individual with a disability is excluded or denied services because of 
the absence of "auxiliary aids and services," which include both 
effective methods of making aurally and visually delivered materials 
available to individuals with impairments, and acquisition or 
modification of equipment or devices. Public accommodations are also 
required to remove physical barriers in existing buildings when it is 
"readily achievable" to do so, that is, when it can be done without 
much difficulty or expense, given the entity's resources. In the event 
that removal of an architectural barrier cannot be accomplished easily, 
the accommodation may take alternative measures to facilitate 
accessibility. All buildings newly constructed by public accommodations 
and commercial facilities must be readily accessible; alterations to 
existing buildings are required to the maximum extent feasible to be 
readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. 

Finally, the Older Americans Act of 1965 (OAA), as amended, supports a 
wide range of social services and programs for older persons. The OAA 
authorizes grants to agencies on aging to serve as advocates of, and 
coordinate programs for, the older population. Such programs cover 
areas such as caregiver support, nutrition services, and disease 
prevention. Importantly, the OAA also provides assistance to improve 
transportation services for older individuals. 

Transportation Challenges Become More Acute with Aging and Can Limit 
Seniors' Ability to Reach Polling Places: 

For older adults who wish to vote at polling places, access to the 
polls is highly affected by their ability to travel to the polling 
place on election day. While most older adults drive, their physical, 
visual, and cognitive abilities can deteriorate, making it more 
difficult for them to drive safely. One study found that approximately 
21 percent (6.8 million) of people aged 65 and older do not 
drive,[Footnote 8] and another study found that more than 600,000 
people aged 70 and older stop driving each year and become dependent on 
others for transportation.[Footnote 9] According to senior 
transportation experts, the "oldest of the old" (those aged 85 and 
older) are especially likely to be dependent on others for rides, 
particularly if they are also in poor health. 

For those who do not or cannot drive, our previous work for this 
committee on the mobility of older adults identified other options than 
driving that are available; nevertheless, transportation gaps 
remain.[Footnote 10] Consistent with the Older Americans Act and other 
legislation, the federal government provides some transportation 
assistance, but this is largely to provide older adults with access to 
other federal program services--such as health and medical care or 
employment. This has been done through partnerships with local 
agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations that provide 
transportation services and also contribute their own funds. Such 
partnering efforts may afford the opportunity to transport seniors to 
polling places as well. For example, the Montana Council on 
Developmental Disabilities partners with other organizations, such as 
AARP and the Montana Transit Association, to provide election day rides 
to older adults and people with disabilities. Still, we generally found 
that older adults in rural and suburban areas have more restricted 
travel options than do those in urban areas. In addition, we have 
reported that federally supported programs generally lacked data 
identifying the extent to which older adults have unmet needs for 
mobility. Consequently, we do not know to what extent older adults are 
unable to find transportation to polling places. 

To address this lack of data and improve transportation services, more 
than 45 states had utilized the "Framework for Action" by 
2005,[Footnote 11] a self-assessment tool created by the Federal 
Interagency Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM) for 
states and communities to help them identify existing gaps in 
transportation services for people with disabilities, older adults, and 
individuals with lower incomes. According to the CCAM, communities 
across the country are now using this tool as they establish 
coordinated transportation plans at the local level. Voting access is 
one need that might well be identified and better met through this 
assessment process. 

Physical Access to Polling Places Was Uneven during Election 2000, but 
May Have Improved since HAVA Was Enacted in 2002: 

Our on-site inspections of polling places in the 2000 general election 
revealed many impediments that can limit access for older voters and 
voters with disabilities. Through our mail survey of states and local 
election jurisdictions conducted after the 2004 general election, we 
learned of improvements to provisions and practices pertaining to 
accessibility of polling places. We did not conduct on-site inspections 
in the 2004 general election and therefore do not know the extent to 
which such improvements took place at polling places. 

An Estimated 16 Percent of Polling Places Used in the 2000 General 
Election Had No Potential Impediments: 

Once older voters reach the polling place, they generally must make 
their way inside the building and into the voting room in order to cast 
their votes. Prior to the 2000 election, very little was known about 
the accessibility of polling places--and what was known was dated and 
had significant limitations. To estimate the proportion of polling 
places in the country with features that might either facilitate or 
impede access for people with mobility, dexterity, or visual 
impairments, we visited 496 randomly selected polling places in the 
United States on Election Day 2000. Our random sample was drawn by 
first selecting a random sample of counties--weighted by population-- 
and then randomly selecting some polling places within those counties. 
At each polling place, using a survey based on federal and nonfederal 
guidelines on accessibility, we took measurements and made observations 
of features of the facility and voting methods that could impede 
access.[Footnote 12] See figure 1 for the key areas at polling places 
where we conducted our observations. We also interviewed poll workers 
who were in charge of the polling place to identify any accommodations 
offered. 

Figure 1: Key Features at Polling Places: 

[See PDF for image] 

This figure is an illustration of Key Features at Polling Places. There 
are also smaller illustrations inset, where indicated. The following 
data is depicted: 

A. Parking Area: 
A1. On or off-street parking is designated for persons with 
disabilities. 

B. Route from parking are to building entrance: 
B1. Surface is paved or has no abrupt changes over 0ne-quarter inch; 
B2. Curbs are ramped or cut, and are 36 inches or more wide; 
B3. Path or ramp along path is 36 inches or more wide (may narrow to 32 
inches for no more than two feet); 
B4. Slope of path or ramp along path is no steeper than 1:12; 
B5. Steps have handrails that extend at least one foot beyond the 
landing; 
B6. Ramps have two handrails (one on each side) if highest point is 
more than six inches off the ground. 

C. Entrance to the building: 
C1. Doorway threshold does not exceed on-half inch in height; 
C2. Single or double-wide openings are 32 inches or more in width; 
(included here is an illustration depicting the minimum width, as well 
as a 24 inch maximum distance for minimum clearance); 
C3. Closed door difficult for a person in a wheelchair to open. 

D. Curbside voting: 
D1. Voting available at curbside. 

E. Route from inside the building entrance to the voting room: 
E1. Doorway threshold does not exceed one-half inch in height; 
E2. Single or double-wide openings are 32 inches or more in width; 
E3. Steps are not required to reach the voting room; 
E4. Corridors have clearances 36 inches or more wide (may narrow to 32 
inches for no more than two feet); 
E5. Slope of ramp is no steeper than 1:12 (included here is an 
illustration depicting the 1:12 slope of a ramp from landing level to 
landing level [also applies to B4]). 

F. Voting stations: 
F1. Voting stations configured for sitting can accommodate a wheelchair 
(included here is an illustration indicating the minimum station height 
is 27 inches, and the minimum station depth is 19 inches); 
F2. Voting stations configured for standing have a forward reach no 
lower than 15 inches and no higher than 48 inches (included here is an 
illustration indicating the minimum and maximum reach distances); 
F3. Voting stations configures for standing have side reach no lower 
than 9 inches and no higher than 54 inches (included here is an 
illustration indicating the minimum and maximum reach distances). 

Source: GAO-02-107, pp 24-24. 

[End of figure] 

These on-site inspections during the 2000 election revealed that only 
an estimated 16 percent of polling places were free of impediments that 
might prevent elderly voters and voters with disabilities from reaching 
voting rooms.[Footnote 13] The rest had one or more likely impediments 
from the parking area to the voting room, although curbside voting was 
often made available where permitted by the state (see fig. 2). These 
were potential impediments primarily for individuals with mobility 
impairments. 

Figure 2: Prevalence of Potential Impediments at Polling Places and 
Availability of Curbside Voting in November 2000 Election: 

[See PDF for image] 

This figure is a pie-chart depicting the following data: 

Percentage of polling places with one or more potential impediments 
that offer curbside voting: 56%; 
Percentage of polling places with one or more potential impediments 
that do not offer curbside voting: 28%; 
Percentage of polling places with no potential impediments: 16%. 

Source: GAO-02-107, p.8; GAO analysis of polling place data collected 
on Nov. 7, 2000. 

[End of figure] 

Further, many polling places had more than one potential impediment in 
2000. Impediments occurred at fairly high rates irrespective of the 
type of building used as a polling place. About 70 percent of all 
Election Day 2000 polling places were in the types of facilities that 
are potentially subject to either Title II or III of the ADA--such as 
schools, recreational/community centers, city/town halls, police/fire 
stations, libraries, and courthouses.[Footnote 14] However, under the 
ADA, only new construction and alterations must be readily accessible, 
and we did not determine the date that polling place facilities were 
either constructed or altered. Moreover, due to the number of possible 
approaches for meeting ADA requirements on accessibility to public 
services and because places of public accommodation need remove 
barriers only where it is easy to do so, we cannot determine from our 
data whether the potential impediments we found would constitute a 
failure to meet ADA requirements. 

In addition to inspecting polling places in 2000, we also reviewed 
state provisions (in the form of statutes, regulations, or policies) 
and surveyed state and county practices that affect voters' ability to 
get into polling places and reach the voting room, and found 
significant variations. While all states and the District of Columbia 
had provisions concerning voting access for individuals with 
disabilities, the extent and manner in which these provisions addressed 
accessibility varied from state to state. For example, 43 states had 
provisions that polling places must or should be accessible, but only 
20 had provisions requiring that reporting by the counties to the state 
on polling place accessibility. See table 1 in app. I for additional 
state provisions concerning the accessibility of polling places in the 
November 2000 election. 

Our survey of election officials in each state and 100 counties also 
revealed variation in practices for ensuring the accessibility of 
polling places.[Footnote 15] For example, while 25 states reported 
providing local governments with training and guidance for assuring 
polling place accessibility, only 5 states reported helping finance 
polling place modifications to improve access in 2000. At least an 
estimated 27 percent of local election jurisdictions reported not using 
accessibility in their criteria for selecting polling places. While at 
least an estimated 68 percent of local jurisdictions reported that they 
inspected all polling places, the frequency of such inspections varied 
from once a year to only when a polling place is first selected or 
following a complaint or remodeling. 

New Provisions and Practices May Be Improving Access to Polling Places, 
although the Degree of Change Is Difficult to Determine: 

After the November 2004 general election, we found signs of improvement 
in access to polling places when we surveyed each state and 
representative sample of local election jurisdictions nationwide in 
2005 about their state provisions and practices.[Footnote 16] While the 
methods we used to collect data from states differed between the 2000 
and 2004 elections, state provisions related to polling place 
accessibility and accommodations nevertheless appear to have increased 
over time. For example, 32 states told us in 2005 that they required 
local jurisdictions to report on polling place accessibility to the 
state, an increase from 20 states with such provisions in 2000. At the 
same time, the number of states requiring polling place inspections 
decreased by 1 from 2000 to 2004, although 16 in addition to the 28 
requiring inspections had provisions in 2004 that allowed for polling 
place inspections. See Table 2 in app. I for additional information on 
state provisions concerning accessibility of polling places and 
accommodations for individuals with disabilities for the November 2004 
general election. 

In addition to changes in state provisions, most states reported that 
they had spent or obligated HAVA funds to improve the accessibility of 
polling places, such as by providing access for voters with mobility or 
visual impairments. Responding to our 2005 survey following the 2004 
election, 46 states and the District of Columbia reported having spent 
or obligated HAVA funds for this purpose. For example, election 
officials in a local jurisdiction we visited in Colorado told us they 
had used HAVA funds to improve the accessibility of polling places by 
obtaining input from the disability community, surveying the 
accessibility of their polling places, and reviewing voting equipment 
with representatives of the blind community. 

From our 2005 survey of local election jurisdictions nationwide, we 
estimated 83 percent of local jurisdictions nationwide made use of 
their state's provisions to determine the requirements for 
accessibility at their polling places.[Footnote 17] During our site 
visits to local jurisdictions in 2005, we asked election officials to 
describe the steps or procedures they took to ensure that polling 
places were accessible.[Footnote 18] Election officials in many of the 
jurisdictions we visited told us that either local or state officials 
inspect each polling location in their jurisdiction using a checklist 
based on state or federal guidelines. For example, election officials 
in the four jurisdictions we visited in Georgia and New Hampshire told 
us that state inspectors conducted a survey of all polling locations. 
Election officials in the two jurisdictions we visited in Florida told 
us that they inspected all polling places using a survey developed by 
the state. 

Our information of provisions and practices related to polling place 
accessibility in 2004 is based on self-reported data collected, and 
site visits we conducted, in 2005. We did not observe polling places 
during the 2004 election and therefore do not know the extent to which 
increased state provisions and reported state and local practices 
resulted in actual improvements to the accessibility of polling places 
in the 2004 general election. 

Election Officials Reported Challenges to Ensuring Voter Access That 
Were Similar to Those Encountered in 2000: 

In preparing for and conducting the November 2004 general election, 
officials reported encountering many of the same challenges to ensuring 
voter access that they had encountered in 2000, such as locating a 
sufficient number of polling places that met requirements (such as 
accessibility). According to our 2005 mail survey, while 75 percent of 
small jurisdictions reported finding it easy or very easy to find 
sufficient number of polling places, only 38 percent of large 
jurisdictions did.[Footnote 19] Conversely, 1 percent of small 
jurisdictions found it difficult or very difficult while 14 percent of 
large jurisdictions did.[Footnote 20] Other challenges reported 
included recruiting and training an adequate supply of skilled poll 
workers, designing ballots that were clear to voters when there were 
many candidates or issues (e.g., propositions, questions, or 
referenda), having long lines at polling places, and handling the large 
volume of telephone calls received from voters and poll workers on 
election day. In general, officials in large and medium jurisdictions-
-those with over 10,000 people--reported encountering more challenges 
than those in small jurisdictions. 

Improving Accessibility of Voting Equipment and Assistance in Voting 
Room May Prove Challenging: 

Once inside the voting room, the type of voting method can pose 
particular challenges to some elderly voters, and facilitating voting 
may require further accommodation or assistance. For example, voters 
with dexterity impairments may experience difficulty holding writing 
instruments for paper ballots, pinpointing the stylus for punch card 
ballots, manipulating levers, or pressing buttons for electronic voting 
systems. Similarly, visually impaired voters may experience difficulty 
reading the text on paper ballots and electronic voting systems, or 
manipulating the handles to operate lever machines. All these voting 
methods can challenge voters with disabilities, although some 
electronic voting systems can be adapted to accommodate a range of 
impairments. 

Accessible Voting Systems in the November 2000 General Election: 

During our on-site inspections of polling places in 2000, we identified 
challenges posed by the voting systems used and by the configuration of 
the voting booths, although some form of assistance was generally 
provided in the voting room. With respect to voting systems, we found 
that either traditional paper ballots or mark-sense ballots (a form of 
optical scan paper ballots) were the most widespread--one or the other 
were in use at an estimated 43 percent of polling places. This voting 
method is challenging for voters with impaired dexterity who have 
difficulty using a pen or pencil, and also for voters with visual 
impairments who need to read the text on the ballots. Next in 
prevalence were punch card ballots (21 percent), electronic voting 
systems (19 percent), and lever machines (17 percent)--each of which 
can be a challenge for voters with certain impairments. We also found 
that many voting booths were not appropriately configured for 
wheelchairs, either because voting stations configured for sitting did 
not have the minimum dimensions for a wheelchair or those configured 
for standing had one or more features that might pose an impediment to 
a wheelchair. At the same time, nearly all polling places allowed 
voters to be assisted either by a friend or a poll worker, which is a 
right granted by the VRA. Moreover, about 51 percent provided voting 
instructions or sample ballots in 18-point or larger type and about 47 
percent provided a magnifying device.[Footnote 21] None of the polling 
places provided ballots or voting equipment adapted with audio-tape or 
Braille ballots for blind voters. 

Our 2000 review of state provisions and practices related to accessible 
voting systems and accommodations in the voting room revealed 
significant gaps, insofar as 27 states lacked provisions that voting 
systems should accommodate individuals with disabilities, 18 lacked 
provisions for wheelchairs in voting booths, and many lacked provisions 
to provide aides to the visually impaired; for example, 47 states 
lacked a provision to provide a large type ballot, and 45 lacked a 
provision to provide a Braille ballot. (See app. I, table 1.) On the 
other hand, we found that state provisions were not necessarily 
predictors of practice inside the polling place. For example, we found 
that half the polling places we visited provided voting instructions or 
sample ballots with large type even though only 3 of the 33 states 
whose polling places we visited had provisions to do so. Conversely, 
none of the polling places we visited provided for Braille ballots, 
even though 5 of the 33 states we visited had provisions for doing so. 
In addition to many states lacking provisions for voting room 
accommodations, in only 11 states did election officials, in response 
to our state survey, report financing improvements to accessibility by 
helping to fund new voting systems. 

Progress Made to Improve Accessibility of Voting Systems after 2000, 
but Significant Challenges Remain: 

Our 2005 survey of states also revealed an increase in state provisions 
for accessible voting equipment, compared to what we found in our 
review of state provisions in 2000. As of August 1, 2005, 41 states and 
the District of Columbia reported having laws in place or having taken 
executive action (through orders, directives, regulations, or policies) 
to provide each polling location by January 1, 2006, with at least one 
electronic voting system or other voting system equipped for 
individuals with disabilities. Five of the 9 remaining states reported 
plans to promulgate laws or executive action to provide each polling 
location with at least one voting system equipped for individuals with 
disabilities.[Footnote 22] This is an increase from 2000, when 24 
states had (and 27 lacked) provisions that voting systems must or 
should accommodate individuals with disabilities. 

In response to our survey of local election jurisdictions in 2005, many 
jurisdictions reported having at least one accessible voting machine 
per polling place in the 2004 election, although this varied by 
jurisdiction size. We estimated that 29 percent of all jurisdictions 
provided at least one accessible voting machine at each polling place 
during the 2004 general elections. In addition, more large and medium 
local election jurisdictions reported using accessible voting machines 
than small jurisdictions. In 2005, we estimated that 39 percent of 
large jurisdictions, 38 percent of medium jurisdictions, and 25 percent 
of small jurisdictions provided accessible voting machines at each 
polling place.[Footnote 23] 

These improvements may be the result of HAVA, which, as noted earlier, 
requires each polling place to have at least one voting system equipped 
for individuals with disabilities, including individuals who are blind 
or visually impaired. To facilitate the adoption of technology, HAVA 
authorized appropriations to provide funds to states to replace punch 
card and lever voting equipment with other voting methods. Since HAVA's 
enactment, the General Services Administration (GSA) reported in 2003 
the distribution of an estimated $300 million to 30 states for funds to 
replace old voting equipment and technology. In addition, states may 
receive other HAVA funds that could be used for multiple purposes, 
including replacement or upgrade of voting systems. In 2004, the EAC 
reported that almost $344 million had been distributed to each of the 
50 states and the District of Columbia under this multiple purpose 
funding category. 

HAVA notwithstanding, our surveys and site visits in 2004 indicated 
that significant challenges remain for acquiring and implementing 
accessible electronic voting systems. Touch screen direct recording 
electronic (DRE) equipment--which can be adapted with audio and other 
aids to accommodate a range of impairments--is generally more costly 
than other types of systems due to software requirements and because 
more units are required. Based on our mail surveys of local election 
jurisdictions, the estimated percentages of predominant voting methods 
used by local jurisdictions in the 2000 and 2004 general elections did 
not change appreciably.[Footnote 24] As we noted earlier, more large 
and medium local election jurisdictions reported using accessible 
electronic voting machines than small jurisdictions. Some election 
officials representing small jurisdictions expressed concerns to us 
about the appropriateness of HAVA requirements for accessible voting 
equipment for their jurisdictions and its implementation cost. In 
addition, some elections officials have acted on concerns regarding the 
reliability and security of electronic voting systems by, for instance, 
decertifying systems previously approved for use within their states. 

In 2007, we testified on the range of security and reliability concerns 
that have been reported, and long-standing and emerging challenges 
facing all levels of government, with respect to electronic voting 
systems. For example, significant concerns have been raised about vague 
or incomplete standards, weak security controls, system design flaws, 
incorrect system configuration, poor security management, and 
inadequate security testing, among other issues. Jurisdictions reported 
that they did not consistently monitor the performance of their 
systems, which is important for determining whether election needs, 
requirements, and expectations are met and for taking corrective 
actions when they are not. Finding remedies, however, is challenging, 
given, for example, the distribution of responsibilities among various 
organizations, and financing constraints and complexities. Given the 
diffused and decentralized allocation of voting system roles and 
responsibilities across all levels of government, addressing these 
challenges will require the combined efforts of all levels of 
government, under the leadership of the EAC. 

States Have Increased Provisions for Voting Rooms Accommodations, 
though the Extent of Such Improvements Is Unclear: 

Our 2005 survey of state election officials revealed a marked increase 
since the 2000 election in the number of state provisions related to 
accommodations in the voting room. For example, the number of states 
that reported having provisions for wheelchair accommodations in voting 
areas was 43, compared to 33 in 2000. Further, the number of states 
that reported having provisions to require or allow ballots with large- 
type, magnifying instruments, and Braille ballot or voting methods 
increased by 18, 20, and 8, respectively. At the same time, a few 
states reported having provisions that prohibit certain accommodations, 
such as ballots in Braille or large type.[Footnote 25] (See app. I, 
table 2 for details on 2004 state provisions.) It is important to keep 
in mind, however, our findings for the 2000 election--i.e., that state 
provisions are not necessarily predictors or indicators of whether 
these accommodations will be found at polling places. 

Most recently, we reported on accommodations provided to bilingual 
voters, including elderly bilingual voters.[Footnote 26] Under the VRA, 
when the population of a "single language minority" with limited 
English proficiency is large enough, voting materials (including 
ballots, instructions, and assistance) must be provided in that 
minority's language, in addition to English. Of the 14 election 
jurisdictions we contacted, 13 reported providing similar assistance, 
such as translated voter materials and bilingual poll workers. All 14 
reported facing similar challenges, such as recruiting a sufficient 
number of bilingual poll workers, effectively targeting where to 
provide assistance, and designing and translating the bilingual 
materials provided. However, GAO found little quantitative data on the 
usefulness of various types of bilingual voting assistance. 
Jurisdictions were challenged to assess the effectiveness of such 
assistance, in part because jurisdictions may be prohibited from 
collecting data on who used such assistance. Thus, it is difficult to 
know the extent to which elderly voters use bilingual assistance and 
what forms of assistance they find most useful.[Footnote 27] 

State Provisions for Alternative Voting Methods and Accommodations 
Generally Increased since 2000, but Implementation Practices May Vary: 

As noted earlier, the VAEHA requires that any elderly voter or voter 
with a disability assigned to an inaccessible polling place, upon his 
or her advance request, must be assigned to an accessible polling place 
or be provided with an alternative means for casting a ballot on the 
day of the election. The VAEHA also contains provisions to make 
absentee voting more accessible by prohibiting, with limited 
exceptions, the requirement of a notary or medical certification of 
disability in granting an absentee ballot. However, states generally 
regulate absentee voting and other alternative voting method 
provisions.[Footnote 28] Alternative voting methods may include advance 
notice of an inaccessible polling place; curbside voting; taking 
ballots to a voter's residence; allowing voters to use another, more 
accessible polling location either on or before election day; voting in 
person at early voting sites; or removing prerequisites by establishing 
"no excuse" absentee voting or allowing absentee voting on a permanent 
basis.[Footnote 29] Disability advocates have told us that while 
alternative voting methods are important and needed options for some 
voters with disabilities, they still do not provide an equal 
opportunity to vote in the same manner as the general public and 
therefore should not be viewed as permanent solutions to inaccessible 
polling places. 

Meanwhile, state provisions that allow for alternative voting methods 
had, in 2004, generally increased from the 2000 election period. 
Specifically, the number of state provisions permitting curbside voting 
increased from 28 in the 2000 election to 30 in the 2004 election. The 
number of states with provisions that provided for carrying ballots to 
voters' residences on or before election day increased from 21 to 25. 
Additionally, state provisions regarding notification of voters of 
inaccessible polling places went up from 19 to 27. In addition, 21 
states reported allowing voters to vote absentee without requiring a 
reason or excuse--3 more than for the November 2000 election. 

Although states may offer similar alternatives and accommodations, our 
review of state provisions in 2000 indicated that there may be wide 
variation in their implementation. For example, in accordance with the 
VAEHA, as previously mentioned, all states allowed absentee voting for 
voters with disabilities without notary or medical certification 
requirements in 2000. However, the dates by which absentee ballots must 
be received varied considerably, with some states requiring that, to be 
counted, the ballot must be received before election day. In addition, 
where states lacked provisions, or had provisions allowing but not 
requiring accommodation or alternative method of voting, county and 
local government implementation practices can vary. For example, in 
2000, we found that in a number of states without formal provision for 
curbside voting, some counties and local governments reported offering 
curbside voting and some did not. Similarly, in a number of states that 
lacked provisions for allowing voters to use an alternate voting place 
on Election Day, our 2000 county survey data also showed that some 
counties and local governments offered this alternative, while others 
did not. 

Expanding alternative voting methods or making special accommodations 
can provide voters with additional options. Early voting, for example, 
allows voters, including elderly voters, to choose a day without 
inclement weather on which to vote. However, the implementation of 
voting alternatives can also present election officials with legal, 
administrative, and operational challenges. For example, expanding the 
use of curbside voting requires having staff trained and available to 
assist voters outside the polling place. In some states where it is not 
authorized or in practice, policymakers would need to be convinced that 
it would not increase the risk of fraud with ballots being taken out of 
the polling place facility.[Footnote 30] Similarly, reassigning voters 
to more accessible polling places requires officials to notify the 
voter, train the poll workers, and provide an appropriate ballot at the 
reassigned location. Election officials reported to us in 2001 that 
establishing early voting sites and expanding the number of absentee 
voters added to the cost and complexity of running an election. For 
example, with early voting, election officials must set up and close 
down the polling place daily, ensure that there are trained poll 
workers at each early voting site, and update the voter registration 
lists to be used on election day to indicate which voters have already 
voted early. Absentee voting challenges include receipt of late 
absentee voter applications and ballots; administrative issues 
including workload demands and resource constraints; dealing with 
potential voter error caused by unsigned or otherwise incomplete 
absentee applications and ballot materials; as well as guarding against 
fraud. Internet voting--an alternative that has been used only on a 
limited basis to date--could offer voters the convenience of voting 
from their homes or other remote locations, and help increase voter 
participation. On the other hand, numerous election officials and 
others have expressed concerns about the security and reliability of 
the Internet and lack of widespread access to it. To resolve these 
issues, studies by some task forces have suggested a phased-in approach 
to Internet voting. 

Conclusions: 

Ensuring that seniors or individuals with disabilities successfully 
cast their votes in an election requires government to think broadly 
about access, including access to transportation, access into 
buildings, access with respect to voting equipment, and access to 
various alternative voting methods. The increase in state provisions 
and reports of practices to improve the accessibility of the voting 
process is encouraging. At the same time, the complexity of our 
election systems is such that we cannot be assured that these 
provisions and reported practices reflect what actually occurs at 
polling places on election day. Understanding and addressing 
accessibility gaps is an enormous task for our state and local election 
officials who are challenged by the multiplicity of responsibilities 
and requirements they must attend to within resource constraints. At 
the same time, as our population ages, and with it the percent of 
voters with disabilities swells, the expectation of accommodation and 
assistance to participate in this basic civic exercise will grow, 
making accessibility a key performance goal for our election community. 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: State Provisions for Accessibility of Polling Places and 
Accommodations for the November 2000 and 2004 Elections: 

Table 1: State Provisions Concerning Accessibility of Polling Places 
for the November 2000 Election: 

State provisions: Voting accessibility; Voting by people with 
disabilities explicitly addressed; 
Number of states with provisions: Statute or regulation: 51; 
Number of states with provisions: Policy Only[A]: 0; 
Number of states with no provision: 0. 

State provisions: Polling place accessibility; All polling places 
must/should be accessible; 
Number of states with provisions: Statute or regulation: 36; 
Number of states with provisions: Policy Only[A]: 7; 
Number of states with no provision: 8. 

State provisions: Polling place accessibility; State provisions contain 
one or more polling place accessibility standards; 
Number of states with provisions: Statute or regulation: 23; 
Number of states with provisions: Policy Only[A]: 19; 
Number of states with no provision: 9. 

State provisions: Polling place accessibility; Inspection of polling 
places to assess accessibility is required; 
Number of states with provisions: Statute or regulation: 15; 
Number of states with provisions: Policy Only[A]: 14; 
Number of states with no provision: 22. 

State provisions: Polling place accessibility; Reporting by counties to 
state on polling place accessibility is required; 
Number of states with provisions: Statute or regulation: 10; 
Number of states with provisions: Policy Only[A]: 10; 
Number of states with no provision: 31. 

State provisions: Voting booth areas and equipment; Voting booth areas 
must/should accommodate wheelchairs; 
Number of states with provisions: Statute or regulation: 17; 
Number of states with provisions: Policy Only[A]: 16; 
Number of states with no provision: 18. 

State provisions: Voting booth areas and equipment; Voting systems 
must/should accommodate individuals with disabilities; 
Number of states with provisions: Statute or regulation: 13; 
Number of states with provisions: Policy Only[A]: 11; 
Number of states with no provision: 27. 

State provisions: Aids for visually impaired voters; Braille ballot or 
methods of voting must/may be provided; 
Number of states with provisions: Statute or regulation: 3; 
Number of states with provisions: Policy Only[A]: 3; 
Number of states with no provision: 45. 

State provisions: Aids for visually impaired voters; Ballots with large 
type must/may be provided; 
Number of states with provisions: Statute or regulation: 2; 
Number of states with provisions: Policy Only[A]: 2; 
Number of states with no provision: 47. 

State provisions: Aids for visually impaired voters; Magnifying 
instruments must/may be provided; 
Number of states with provisions: Statute or regulation: 7; 
Number of states with provisions: Policy Only[A]: 15; 
Number of states with no provision: 29. 

Source: GAO-02-107, p. 17; GAO analysis of statutes, regulations, and 
other written provisions in 50 states and the District of Columbia. 
Provision categories were identified based on our review of these legal 
and policy documents. 

[A] Policies for a particular provision were identified only if a state 
did not have either a statute or regulation for that provision. 

[End of table] 

Table 2: State Provisions Concerning Accessibility of Polling Places 
and Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities for the November 
2004 General Election: 

Provision: Polling place accessibility standards[A]; 
Required: 41; 
Allowed: 6; 
Not allowed: 0; 
Not addressed: 2; 
Not applicable: 1[B]; 
Required or allowed: 47. 

Provision: Inspections of polling place accessibility; 
Required: 28; 
Allowed: 16; 
Not allowed: 0; 
Not addressed: 6; 
Not applicable: 1[B]; 
Required or allowed: 44. 

Provision: Reporting by local jurisdictions to the state on polling 
place accessibility; 
Required: 32; 
Allowed: 8; 
Not allowed: 0; 
Not addressed: 9; 
Not applicable: 2[B]; 
Required or allowed: 40. 

Provision: Accommodations of wheelchairs in voting areas; Required: 39; 
Allowed: 4; Not allowed: 0; Not addressed: 7; Not applicable: 1[B]; 
Required or allowed: 43. 

Provision: Provision of ballot or methods of voting in Braille[C]; 
Required: 1; 
Allowed: 13; 
Not allowed: 2; 
Not addressed: 33; 
Not applicable: 1; 
Required or allowed: 14. 

Provision: Provision of ballots with large type; 
Required: 5; 
Allowed: 17; 
Not allowed: 3; 
Not addressed: 26; 
Not applicable: 0; 
Required or allowed: 22. 

Provision: Provision of magnifying instruments[C]; 
Required: 8; 
Allowed: 34; 
Not allowed: 0; 
Not addressed: 7; 
Not applicable: 1[B]; 
Required or allowed: 42. 

Source: GAO-06-450, p. 507; GAO 2005 survey of state election 
officials: 

[A] Election officials in one state responded that they did not know. 

[B] Oregon conducts voting by mail; thus, provisions for polling place 
accessibility are not applicable. 

[C] Election officials in one state did not respond to this question. 

[End of table] 

[End of section] 

Related GAO Products: 

Bilingual Voting Assistance: Selected Jurisdictions' Strategies for 
Identifying Needs and Providing Assistance. GAO-08-182. Washington, 
D.C.: January 18, 2008. 

Elections: All Levels of Government Are Needed to Address Electronic 
Voting System Challenges. GAO-07-741T. Washington, D.C.: April 18, 
2007. 

Older Driver Safety: Knowledge Sharing Should Help States Prepare for 
Increase in Older Driver Population. GAO-07-413. Washington, D.C.: 
April 11, 2007. 

Elections: The Nation's Evolving Election System as Reflected in the 
November 2004 General Election. GAO-06-450. Washington, D.C.: June 6, 
2006. 

Social Security Reform: Answers to Key Questions. GAO 05-193SP. 
Washington, D.C.: May 2, 2005. 

Transportation-Disadvantaged Seniors: Efforts to Enhance Senior 
Mobility Could Benefit. from Additional Guidance and Information. GAO- 
04-971. Washington, D.C.: August 30, 2004: 

Elections: A Framework for Evaluating Reform Proposals. GAO-02-90. 
Washington, D.C.: October 15, 2001. 

Elections: Perspectives on Activities and Challenges Across the Nation. 
GAO-02-3. Washington, D.C.: October 15, 2001. 

Voters with Disabilities: Access to Polling Places and Alternative 
Voting Methods. GAO-02-107. Washington, D.C.: October 15, 2001. 

Elections: The Scope of Congressional Authority in Election 
Administration. GAO-01-470. Washington, D.C.: March 13, 2001. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] GAO, Voters with Disabilities: Access to Polling Places and 
Alternative Voting Methods, GAO-02-107 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 15, 
2001). 

[2] GAO, Transportation-Disadvantaged Seniors: Efforts to Enhance 
Senior Mobility Could Benefit from Additional Guidance and Information, 
GAO-04-971 (Washington, D.C.: Aug. 30, 2004). 

[3] GAO, Elections: The Nation's Evolving Election System as Reflected 
in the November 2004 General Election, GAO-06-450 (Washington, D.C.: 
June 6, 2006). 

[4] GAO, Elections: All Levels of Government Are Needed to Address 
Electronic Voting System Challenges, GAO-07-741T (Washington, D.C.: 
Apr. 18, 2007). 

[5] GAO, Bilingual Voting Assistance: Selected Jurisdictions' 
Strategies for Identifying Needs and Providing Assistance, GAO-08-182 
(Washington, D.C.: Jan. 18, 2008). 

[6] Oregon has, since 1998, conducted its elections almost exclusively 
by mail ballot; thus, it has no polling places. 

[7] See Wan He, Manisha Sangupta, Victoria A. Velkoff, and Kimberly A. 
DeBarros, 65+ in the United States: 2005, Current Population Reports 
Special Studies, pp. 23-209(Washington, D.C.: Dec. 2005). 

[8] U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation 
Statistics, 2001 National Household Travel Survey. 

[9] Daniel J. Foley, MS, Harley K. Heimovitz, PhD, Jack M. Guralnik, 
MD, PhD, and Dwight B. Brock, PhD, "Driving Life Expectancy of Persons 
Aged 70 Years and Older in the United States," American Journal of 
Public Health, vol. 92, no. 8 (2002). 

[10] GAO-04-971. 

[11] The Framework for Action was developed by what is now known as the 
Federal Interagency Coordinating Council for Access and Mobility, a 
body with senior leadership from 11 federal departments and agencies 
that are charged with coordinating transportation services provided by 
federal programs and promoting the maximum feasible coordination at the 
state and local levels. In addition, the Department of Health and Human 
Services' Administration on Aging and the Department of 
Transportation's Federal Transportation Administration created a 
toolkit for state and local planners to help them assess older adults' 
transportation needs and to coordinate transportation services, 
organized around the Framework for Action planning process. 

[12] For additional details on our methods, see GAO-02-107, app I. 

[13] Sampling errors for polling place data range from 3 to 10 
percentage points, unless otherwise noted in this report. 

[14] As noted previously, Title II, Subtitle A, which applies to state 
and local governments, requires that public programs, services, and 
activities be accessible to individuals with disabilities (42 U.S.C. 
§§12131-34). Title III requires reasonable modifications in policies, 
practices, or procedures to be made by public accommodations to achieve 
accessibility for people with disabilities (42 U.S.C. 
§12182(b)(2)(A)(ii)). Also, new construction and alteration of existing 
facilities by state and local governments, public accommodations, and 
commercial facilities generally must be readily accessible to 
individuals with disabilities (42 U.S.C. §12183(a)). 

[15] Sampling errors for county survey data generally range from 4 to 
25 percentage points. We generally presented the lower bound of the 
estimate when the sampling error was large. For details, see GAO-02-
107, app I. 

[16] For our 2005 local election jurisdiction survey, we used a 
stratified random probability sample. For details, see GAO-06-450, 
apps. III, IV and V. 

[17] Unless otherwise noted, the maximum sampling error for estimates 
of all local election jurisdictions from this survey is plus or minus 5 
percentage points. For more details on this survey, see GAO-06-450, 
apps. III and V. 

[18] We visited 28 local election jurisdictions to collect information 
about the election administration process and their experiences during 
the November 2004 general election. For more details, see app. IV of 
GAO-06-450. 

[19] Unless otherwise noted, the maximum sampling error for estimates 
for large population jurisdictions from this survey is plus or minus 
seven percentage points, plus or minus 7 percentage points for medium 
population jurisdictions, and 5 percentage points for small 
jurisdictions. 

[20] For this survey, large jurisdictions are defined as those with a 
population over 100,000, medium jurisdictions have a population of over 
10,000 to 100,000, and small jurisdictions have a population of 10,000 
or less. In 2004, 7,627 of the nation's election jurisdictions had a 
population of 10,000 or less. While small jurisdictions represent the 
majority of local election jurisdictions, nearly all are in states that 
contained a small portion of the U.S. population according to Census 
2000. Local election jurisdictions with over 10,000 people comprised 27 
percent of all election jurisdictions in the United States, but nearly 
all were in states that comprised a large portion of the population. 

[21] Sampling error of plus or minus 11 percentage points at the 95 
percent confidence level. 

[22] The 5 states that reported having plans were Kansas, Louisiana, 
Ohio, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. The 4 remaining states that reported 
having no plans or were uncertain about their plans were Delaware, 
Massachusetts, Missouri, and Tennessee. 

[23] The differences between both large and medium jurisdictions and 
small jurisdictions are statistically significant. 

[24] We defined the predominant voting method as one that processed the 
largest number of ballots regardless of when the vote was cast: on 
general Election Day, as a provisional vote, during absentee voting, or 
during early voting. See GAO-06-450, pp 292-300 for additional details 
on these results from our 2005 mail survey. 

[25] Our information on state provisions in election 2004 was self- 
reported. We did not independently review state laws or policies in 
2004. 

[26] GAO, Bilingual Voting Assistance: Selected Jurisdictions' 
Strategies for Identifying Needs and Providing Assistance, GAO-08-182 
(Washington, D.C.: Jan. 18, 2008) 

[27] While did not specifically assess the extent to which older voters 
use such assistance, election officials and community groups we 
contacted provided examples of issues related to older workers. For 
example, some jurisdictions reported that many elderly voters may need 
extra time to review the translated materials and ballots, and thus may 
prefer to vote absentee. 

[28] In our 2001 report we define "alternative" voting methods as any 
voting method other than traditional in-person voting at a polling 
place on election day. 

[29] No excuse" absentee voting is available to all voters--that is, 
voters do not need to give a reason to vote absentee. In permanent 
absentee voting, the voter may request that an absentee ballot be 
automatically mailed to them, rather than applying separately, for each 
election. Voters may need to periodically reapply for permanent 
absentee ballot status. 

[30] The number of state provisions prohibiting curbside voting went 
from 4 in the 2000 election to 18 in the 2004 election. 

[End of section] 

GAO's Mission: 

The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation and 
investigative arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting 
its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance 
and accountability of the federal government for the American people. 
GAO examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and 
policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance 
to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding 
decisions. GAO's commitment to good government is reflected in its core 
values of accountability, integrity, and reliability. 

Obtaining Copies of GAO Reports and Testimony: 

The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no 
cost is through GAO's Web site [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. Each 
weekday, GAO posts newly released reports, testimony, and 
correspondence on its Web site. To have GAO e-mail you a list of newly 
posted products every afternoon, go to [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov] 
and select "Subscribe to Updates." 

Order by Mail or Phone: 

The first copy of each printed report is free. Additional copies are $2 
each. A check or money order should be made out to the Superintendent 
of Documents. GAO also accepts VISA and Mastercard. Orders for 100 or 
more copies mailed to a single address are discounted 25 percent. 
Orders should be sent to: 

U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street NW, Room LM: 
Washington, D.C. 20548: 

To order by Phone: 
Voice: (202) 512-6000: 
TDD: (202) 512-2537: 
Fax: (202) 512-6061: 

To Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse in Federal Programs: 

Contact: 

Web site: [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm]: 
E-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov: 
Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470: 

Congressional Relations: 

Gloria Jarmon, Managing Director, JarmonG@gao.gov: 
(202) 512-4400: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street NW, Room 7125: 
Washington, D.C. 20548: 

Public Affairs: 

Chuck Young, Managing Director, youngc1@gao.gov: 
(202) 512-4800: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street NW, Room 7149: 
Washington, D.C. 20548: