Handicap access issue at one New Orleans polling place

NEW ORLEANS — Nine tall steps separate people from the sidewalk to the entrance of the Foundation Preparatory Charter School at 2733 Esplanade Avenue.  For anyone who uses a cane to walk, it would be a treacherous climb.  It would be virtually impossible for anyone who requires a walker or wheelchair.

The building is a regular polling place.  To make sure handicap people have access, the gate that leads to the parking lot behind the school remains open during voting hours.  It allows people to park just a few feet away from the school’s back entrance which has no steps.  Also, the voting machine are a matter of feet away once you’ve entered the door.

But for Tuesday’s elections, the gate to the back parking lot was locked at least for part of the day.  Handicap voters could still get to the back door of the building, but the path required they park on Esplanade Avenue and walk down an ally along the side of the building.  After dusk, much of the walk was in near darkness.

Poll workers were doing their best to assist handicapped voters negotiate their way.  Many used their cell phones to help light the way.  They told WGNO that some handicapped voters decided to go home rather than risk their way

Workers told us that Clerk of Court Arthur Morrell was aware of the situation and visited the location in person.  They say he promised to find out who locked the back gate.  He also took the names of the people who were affected by the issue to contact them.

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