Officials improve access for voters with disabilities

Capital News Service
LANSING – Election officials say they are striving to make polling places more accessible to voters with disabilities. Meanwhile, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated that nationally, 45 percent of polling places have impediments, such as lack of ramps. Justin Roebuck, elections coordinator at the Ottawa County Clerk’s office, said, “It’s very important that we are completely accommodating our voters and have equal opportunity.”
Roebuck said polling places in his county provide lowered tables and ramps for wheelchairs. “There is nothing in law that would restrict anyone who is disabled from voting,” Roebuck said, “We never make a judgment on who is capable of making voting choices.”
Roebuck said the Help America Vote Act of 2002 improved polling places’ standards by requiring better physical access and technology to disabled voters. His office provides devices to assist voters with impaired vision and hearing that reads text through headphones or allows them to use a touch-screen or buttons to make selections in secret.

Federal report proposes pipeline safety steps

Capital News Service
LANSING — In the summer of 2010, more than 800,000 gallons of oil burst from a faulty Enbridge Inc. pipeline, wreaking ecological havoc as the oil passed through the Kalamazoo River, stopping just 80 miles from Lake Michigan. The rupture near Marshall caused the oil to flow 30 miles downstream before it was contained, but residual contamination persists. Last October, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notified Enbridge that additional work is required to clean up the spill. Now a national study from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is proposing measures to prevent future calamities. The GAO — a nonpartisan investigative agency of Congress — aimed the study at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which works with state agencies to oversee pipelines carrying oil, gasoline and natural gas.