At the San Benito County Board of Supervisors meeting today, Clerk Joe Paul Gonzalez reported that the elections office has been approved for the “Yes to Vote” federal grant – for $125,000 – to improve voting conditions for people with disabilities.
Gonzalez said he is especially happy about the grant approval during tough budgetary times.
“It’s no excuse to stop improving. I see this as a tremendous opportunity to improve.”
The county received approval on two of four categories underlining how dollars can be spent – they include improvements for equal opportunity voting and access to voting information.
Gonzalez said he just got word this morning of the approval and that there are no specific plans for the use of the money at this time.
He did note that some of the funds might be used to replace aging polling-place signs, which would fall under the access information category.
Other potential uses could include removal of door-closing mechanisms so that wheelchair-bound citizens won’t have doors slammed on them or buying specific ramps to comply with what Gonzalez called “stringent criteria of the Americans with Disabilities Act.” Both of these potential uses would fall under the equal opportunity voters category.
Gonzalez said he will be working with his staff to find out which procedures can be improved with the money.
“That’s what the money is for, improving our election services,” he said.
All the funds will go toward ensuring that polling places are ADA compliant for those days. The grant will be to “better serve the ADA voting community,” Gonzalez said.
The next election will be a special statewide election on May 19. The ballot will contain six ballot measures to complete the budget approved by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
According to the county’s election Web site, the measures include spending restrictions, an amendment to Proposition 98’s school funding guarantee, lottery, early childhood funding, mental health funding and a measure that would prohibit the California Citizens Compensation Commission from awarding pay raises to lawmakers and other state officials in years in which the state is running a deficit.
For more information on this election, go to www.sbcvote.us.