Local News

Aug 6, 2014 4:22 PM by Janine Reyes

ADA Compliance Requirements Could Cause Polling Place Problems

NUECES COUNTY -- Two years ago, Department of Justice investigators checked out several buildings within Nueces County to make sure they're complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Just yesterday, the county received an order detailing what the DOJ expects them to do.

They say some upgrades will be a challenge because of cost, others, because they are not their buildings.

Cash Clarke began working at the Nueces County Courthouse 9 years ago.

"Somebody helped me the first time to get around," Clarke said, "once I've done it a few times, I have just a system that I know where to go."

Since first grade, Clarke has been blind, so, upgrades, like new signs at the courthouse have helped.

"Some of them have Braille or just now some of the courts have where its raised letters, that you can feel kind of texture type," Clarke explained.

Even so, the Department of Justice found 88 areas where the county courthouse is not in compliance.

That's just one building of more than 40 areas they surveyed.

In fact, a entire binder full of suggestions highlights many problems at several locations across Nueces County.

Most issues require compliance in 6 months.

"We only wish they hadn't waited two years and three months, it would have been a whole lot better for us to have had a year to work on this before this election cycle," Nueces County Judge Lloyd Neal said of the order.

The elections are a critical concern for the county - because many schools are out of compliance. The county doesn't own them, but if they aren't upgraded, polling places may have to move and that's not a feasable option with 90 days until elections.

"It's impossible now to make a lot of changes on polling sites and other things to do with the election process," Neal explained.

For Cash, the current set up at the courthouse is fine, but, he's hopeful others may benefit from the order. "Some people around here that come in are in wheelchair or their walkers or even deaf," he said.

Judge Neal says they hope to present the Department of Justice with their plan of action by next week. They've divided several areas that require compliance into sections that will be tackled by different elected leaders and county employees.

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