SEP 14 1995 The Honorable Bob Wise Member, U.S.

House of Representatives Elk Office Center 4710 Chimney Drive Charleston, West Virginia 25302-4804 Dear congressman Wise: This is in response to your inquiry on behalf of your constituent, XX ,concerning the accessibility of polling places. XX complains that XX polling place, in the Cedar Grove School Building, is not accessible to persons using wheelchairs. We apologize for our delay in responding. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires "program accessibility," rather than facility access, for existing buildings and facilities. A public entity must operate each program, service, or activity so that the service, program, or activity, when viewed in its entirety, is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, but a public entity is not necessarily required to make each of its existing facilities accessible. 28 C.F.R. 35.150 (the Department of Justice's regulation implementing Title II, 28 C.F.R. pt. 35). Removal of architectural barriers is one method of providing access to programs and activities in existing facilities, but other methods are also permitted if they provide program access. West Virginia is required to make its voting activities accessible through whatever effective means it deems appropriate. Thus, XX polling place need not necessarily be accessible if other means are provided for voters with disabilities to cast their ballots on the day of the election (curbside voting procedures, for example). The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act (Voting Access Act) requires that all polling places for Federal elections be accessible. The Voting Access Act does not apply, however, to a polling place if the chief election officer of the State determines that no accessible place is available and it is cc: Records; Chrono; Wodatch; Milton; McDowney; FOIA udd\milton\congress\voting.wis

01-03912 -2not possible to make one temporarily accessible and that any voter in need of an accessible polling place, upon advance request, will be assigned to an accessible polling place or will be provided with an alternative means for casting a ballot on the day of the election. Curbside or other alternative voting procedures are a permissible alternative to accessible voting places, however, only if they are an effective method of providing access to the program or activity. Thus, if the Commission failed to follow its procedures for curbside voting, or otherwise denied an individual with a disability the opportunity to vote, it would be in violation of title II and the Voting Access Act. I hope this information is helpful to you in responding to your constituent. Sincerely,

Deval L. Patrick Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division