Widener Law Students Assist with Accessibility Issues on Election Day
Web Editor and Harrisburg Web Correspondent - Published: November 6, 2012
2012VOTEANDACLUPROMO235pxWith election day at hand, students from both of Widener Law’s campuses will be participating throughout the day in efforts to make sure that the election process is both fair and accessible.

Students from Widener Law's Harrisburg campus will be working with the Election Protection Coalition and the Dauphin County Bar Association to ensure free, fair, and accessible elections.

"I'm very pleased that Election Protection asked our students to participate in this important project; not only is it important in and of itself, but it gives our students an opportunity to put their legal skills in practice. Plus they will be working with attorneys," says Harrisburg campus Dean of Students Keith Sealing.

Among the hot topics that face Pennsylvanians at the voting booths this election is the voter identification law. Although a recent court decision renders the voter identification law inapplicable for this election cycle, many people are still confused as to the impact of the law on this election. Harrisburg City buses still show advertisements instructing voters that they must have photo-identification in order to vote. This is not accurate, and many fear polling stations will confuse the current state of law.

Participating Widener Law Harrisburg Students will be monitoring polling stations throughout the day.

“For some segments of our population, the right to vote is a hard fought for victory,” says Stephanie Blaisdell, President of the Delaware campus student American Civil Liberties Union Society, adding, “But as in all aspects of the law, a right that can’t be exercised is a right denied. As law students, ensuring equal poll access to those with disabilities is a practical way to aid in democracy while polishing conflict resolution and communication skills.”

To help ensure fair access to polling centers, the Delaware campus student ACLU chapter and the Public Interest Law Alliance will participate in the Delaware Disabilities Law Program ‘s Voter Access Project. Student volunteers will earn pro bono credits by surveying polling places throughout the day in an effort to assess compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The surveys are done in cooperation with the Delaware Board of elections, and participants will complete a "Polling Place Accessibility Checklist" for each polling site visited. Accessibility issues may be addressed onsite or reported to the Board of Elections.

“We all hope to serve our communities in our role as lawyers and this is a wonderful opportunity to apply this goodwill now,” concludes Stephanie.