University Townhouses, the polling location for Precinct 5 in Ward 3, had specific improvements made under a 2005 grant. (Photo by the writer on Sept. 7, 2009; links to higher resolution file.)
In a letter dated Sept. 1, 2009, addressed to Ann Arbor’s city clerk, Jackie Beaudry, the nonprofit Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service Inc. gave the city a Sept. 15 deadline to respond to its concerns about accessibility to polling locations in Ann Arbor.
The response deadline comes two weeks ahead of the expiration of a grant for which the city was approved in 2007 under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The grant was for improvements in accessibility to Tappan and Eberwhite schools.
Lansing-based MPAS is concerned that the city has not submitted work for reimbursement under the 2007 grant. And that would put in jeopardy the city’s 2009 grant application for improvements to five additional locations – Northside, Dicken, Lawton, Lakewood and Pittsfield elementary schools. The MPAS letter paints a picture suggesting the city has not made progress towards addressing problems that the city itself identified in 2004 at 21 of the city’s 48 precincts.
However, after checking into the matter with MPAS, the state’s Bureau of Elections, and Ann Arbor city staff, The Chronicle has concluded that: (i) the situation with the 2007 grant is a matter of non-communication and paperwork follow-through, (ii) that prior to 2007, the city of Ann Arbor completed work under HAVA grants, with some reimbursements already made, and other payments still in process, and (iii) the city’s strategy for ensuring access uses a variety of temporary measures on election days, as well as a work plan for more permanent fixes. [Full Story]