COLUMBIA — Round door knobs, sloped parking spots and inadequate handicapped parking signs are among voter-accessibility problems being fixed in Anderson County following a review by the U.S. Attorney's Office, officials said Friday.
The county's elections board signed a settlement this month pledging to ensure all of its polling precincts meet federal requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act, U.S. Attorney Sherri Lydon announced.
Why government authorities chose to review Anderson County precincts is unknown. A spokesman for the federal office did not return a message seeking more information.
The U.S. Attorney's Office reached a similar agreement with Richland County officials following a 2016 review.
A review of 15 of Anderson County's 80 precincts during the June primaries found many weren't properly accessible to voters with limited mobility, according to a release from Lydon's office.
Improvements began before the settlement took effect Nov. 9, in time for the General Election held three days earlier, the release said.
Cited issues included doors without lever handles — required for opening with a closed fist — signs that didn't specify a parking spot was van accessible, sidewalk ramps that were too steep and sloped parking that could make it difficult for someone to get out of a vehicle and inside the building without help, according to the Anderson County Board of Voter Registration and Elections.
Some of the fixes were easy, such as new signs and moving a parking spot a couple spaces to the left or right, said precinct coordinator Mellissa Braendle.
"We take this seriously," she said. Before this month's election, "we did everything they asked us to do to be compliant. We want every voter eligible to get out and vote."
Some precincts will have to be moved before the next election, she said.
Under the settlement, Anderson County also pledged to train poll workers on how to install Election Day solutions, such as temporary wheelchair ramps, placing cones to designate accessible parking and putting mats over door thresholds.
The State Election Commission's goal is 100 percent accessibility at all 2,278 polling places statewide, said spokesman Chris Whitmire, noting the agency sends a check list to each county so local officials can verify whether polling places follow federal law.
"Every South Carolinian should be able to go to their polling place and vote without any barriers," he said. "They can vote curbside or absentee, but those options aren’t replacements for going to their polling place and voting like everyone else."