Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson approved Wabash County’s application for money to improve voting accessibility. The county was awarded $13,000 as part of the latest round of funding distributed to counties who meet the qualifications of the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. Applications are approved with the consent of the bipartisan co-directors of the Indiana Election Division. These funds will be used to upgrade current polling places to ensure those locations are handicap accessible.
“I commend Wabash County’s commitment to improving accessibility for Hoosiers,” Secretary Lawson said. “These upgrades at the request of Wabash County Clerk Elaine Martin will improve the town hall structures for all citizens, not just on election day but every day.”
Wabash County will use the funds to upgrade accessibility for all voters at polling locations used in the primary and general elections in the towns of Roann and Lagro. In Roann, automatic doors, handicap accessible parking places and tapered sidewalks will be added to the town hall. In Lagro, the town hall will be updated with a ramp to the building, wider automatic doors with new door handles and push bars for emergency exits, steel grab bars and American with Disabilities Act signs to show exits, restrooms and handicap accessible doors.
“I was very pleased to apply for this grant money for Wabash County that will benefit the Lagro and Roann communities . Town Clerk Kristie Bone from Lagro and Town Clerk Bob Ferguson from Roann were very helpful in getting the quotes and necessary paperwork together that enabled me to apply for the HAVA grant. When I received the email from the HAVA Administrator on Sept. 11 notifying me that our application had been approved, I immediately phoned both Kristie Bone and Bob Ferguson and I’m not sure who was more excited, them or me! Lagro and Roann will be making these improvements in the next few months as we prepare for the upcoming elections in May 2014 . I am told that Wabash County can expect to receive the money from the State about mid-October. Sometimes citizens don’t always see what goes on behind the scenes in their county clerk’s office or in their local town clerk’s office, so I wanted to share this good news as one of the things we are doing to improve our community,” said Elaine Martin, County Clerk.
Congress passed HAVA in response to issues raised in various parts of the country during the 2000 Presidential Election. The HAVA funding Wabash County is receiving is a Health and Human Services grant. It was established to help counties upgrade polling locations to meet handicap accessibility standards. The counties may use this funding to make upgrades such as adding a wheelchair ramp, automatic-door openers and parking pads. Grant applications are submitted to the Indiana Secretary of State’s Election Division. While the funds awarded are federal dollars, the Secretary of State’s office is responsible for approving grant applications and administering the reimbursement funds.