Welcome, voters, how long can you hold it?

Election officials in Miami-Dade County have thought of a fabulous new way to disenfanchise people: lock up the restrooms (toilets, WCs, washrooms) at polling places so that voters faced with long lines will give up and leave.

Earlier this year, the Miami-Dade County Elections Department quietly implemented a policy to close the bathrooms at all polling facilities, according to disability rights lawyer Marc Dubin. Dubin said the policy change was in “direct response” to an inquiry to the Elections Department about whether they had assessed accessibility of polling place bathrooms to those with disabilities.

“I was expecting them to say either yes we have or yes we will,” Dubin said.

Instead, he received a written response announcing that the county would close all restrooms at polling places “to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not treated unfairly,” a January email stated. “[T]he Department’s policy is not to permit access to restrooms at polling sites on election days,” Assistant County Attorney Shanika Graves said in a Feb. 14 email.

That’s like saying “the Department’s policy is to whack people waiting in line to vote with heavy wooden baseball bats.”

Did someone mention voting rights? Never heard of them.



  1. Seth says

    Every time some old white man whines about ‘low voter turnout’, he should be immediately barraged with stories like this and asked what the fuck he’s doing about it.

  2. says

    I think you’ve missed the most obvious explanation. With government contracting rules any project, even something like modifying restrooms to meet ADA requirements, will take 12 – 18 months. The Miami-Dade folks looked at the letter as the opening shot of a lawsuit. They couldn’t make the restrooms ADA compliant before the elections, so they closed them to both comply with the law avoid a lawsuit.

  3. karmacat says

    Personally, I think everyone should take this opportunity to pee on Rick Scott. Just because…

  4. Menyambal says

    The question was whether they had assessed. It didn’t ask if they had actually assured access, just if they had looked. Or at least so I see it. They coulda said yes, and we will need time.

    On a related case, I toured the Missouri state capitol building a few years back. I was walking with a cane, and the tour guide was very attentive and the tour was arranged to use elevators when needed. But the stairs up to the dome were closed to everyone, because there was no elevator access.

    I didn’t like that, and I don’t like the sound of this one.

  5. James Howde says

    As Menyambal indicates this is a fairly common response, and putting yourself in the position of an official you can see why.

    You get a message from a disabled rights lawyer so that gives a choice between two options
    a) Check that all the venues you are using as polling stations have the correct facilities and risk being sued if some don’t
    b) Just don’t provide facilities to anyone. Work for you = nothing

    If people complain when you choose b) you can always blame those dog-in-a-manger disabled rights activists for spoiling it for everyone.

    Only an idiot would choose option a)


    I seem to have typed “an idiot” in that last sentence. That should read “somebody who gave a toss about the comfort of the people they are being paid to look after”. It’s an easy mistake to make.
    After all there was a third option c) Say “Yes” having considered the matter when selecting the venues

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