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Fines to fund voter access

Improvements to a handful of parking areas at election sites will be funded from parking ticket fees.

By CHASE SQUIRES, Times Staff Writer
Published October 18, 2003

DADE CITY - Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Kurt Browning has found a way for parking scofflaws to help make polling places more accessible.

Under a new plan, with the legal nod of County Attorney Robert Sumner, Browning plans to use fees collected from people who illegally park in handicapped parking spots to improve access for the disabled at polling places the county rents from private organizations.

About nine of the 151 polling places have access problems, Browning said. Though his office tries to avoid using places that aren't up to access codes, some precincts are so remote the choices are slim.

A state law will require all polling places to provide access for the disabled by 2006. Browning said he wants to beat that deadline by wrapping up the work before the March primary elections.

"Although these facilities are private, they are public on election day," Browning said Friday. "Accessibility is a huge, huge issue now. It always has been, but I think it's taken a higher priority now."

Browning said work at the selected locations, including polling places in Trilby and Crystal Springs, would cost between $15,000 and $20,000. Work would include paving some parking places, improving hand rails and adding wheelchair ramps.

Because the work would improve privately owned buildings, Browning said he would seek an agreement with the landowners to continue renting the buildings to the county on election day for at least the next 10 years.

Sumner reviewed Browning's proposal, and in a memo to Browning and the Pasco County Commission, he said a special fund where money for handicapped parking fines is deposited can be used for the polling place access work.

Browning said the county's new electronic voting system is already accessible to disabled voters.

He said he plans to meet with Assistant County Administrator Dan Johnson soon to begin talking about a construction schedule.


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