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This center is on a mission to make sure voting sites in Virginia are accessible

Posted at 3:57 PM, Nov 10, 2022

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Tuesday's midterm elections didn't just have voters turning out to the polls. Staff and volunteers with the Disability Law Center of Virginia made their way to more than 300 polling sites to see firsthand how accessible the sites were.

While some campaigns spent Tuesday handing out last-minute literature to voters, some like 86-year-old Gilda Pegram waited patiently in their cars.

"Standing in line would not have been a choice I would have taken," Pegram said.

Pegram, who has special tags and a severe back issue, had decided to try and walk inside to vote when she was stopped by a friend.

"She said, Gilda, would you like curbside service? I said, why not. So she said, get back in the car, so I got back in my car and waited," Pegram said.

Luckily, she said she didn't have to wait long.

"The gentleman came out and asked me my name and I showed him my identification, spelled m name. He went through the whole nine yards," Pegram said.

Pegram said parking for curbside voting at her precinct was well-marked, something that isn't the case at some precincts across Virginia.

"We've seen some other places where it's really hard to figure out how you could ask for curbside voting," Colleen Miller, the executive director for the Disability Law Center of Virginia, said.

On Tuesday, staff and volunteers with the center went to more than 300 polling places across the state.

"Just checking out to make sure people know that they can vote curbside, if they want to or that they can get in and actually access the voting equipment if they've got a disability," Miller said.

Miller said all the precincts in Petersburg got a passing grade.

"I would actually grade Petersburg really, really well because so far, I've seen great signage for how you ask for it. The parking spaces are all accessible so I think Petersburg is doing a great job," Miller said.

State law requires information about curbside voting to be posted for people with disabilities or for those who are over the age of 65.

Pegram said overall, she had a positive voting experience.

Miller said experiences like Pegram's should be felt by voters across the Commonwealth.

"People with disabilities make up a huge percentage of the population of Virginia. And every single one of us knows and loves somebody with a disability and so we all care," Miller said.

Miller said it will take some time to compile the information from the more than 300 voting sites that they visited. Once the overall findings are gathered, they will first be delivered to the State Board of Election and then to those registrars whose voting sites did poorly.

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