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Colorado’s El Paso County Election Department Honored with a “Clearie” Award for Improving Voting Accessibility

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U.S. Election Assistance Commission National Award Commemorates Best Practices in Election Administration

Silver Spring, Md. – The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) today announced that El Paso County’s elections department won a national competition recognizing best practices in election administration. El Paso County was selected for its work to make the voting process more accessible for voters with disabilities. Born of the commission’s mandate to serve as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration, the annual “Clearie” awards recognize outstanding innovations in election administration that can serve as examples to other officials and jurisdictions.

“These awards celebrate the very best in election practices across the nation,” said EAC Chairman Matthew Masterson. “As we travel throughout the country, our commission sees first-hand the innovation and commitment to excellence that election officials and their partners bring to their work. These awards acknowledge that work and highlight best practices that other election administrations can emulate.”

Ahead of the 2016 federal election, the elections department partnered with the Independence Center – a local nonprofit dedicated to supporting independent living for the disabled community in the county – to improve voting accessibility. This included:

  • Hosting an open house for the community to practice on accessible voting machines prior to Election Day.
  • Coordinating with the Independence Center to provide disability etiquette training to over 200 election judges for the 2016 Primary and the Presidential Election.
  • Using the Independence Center as a voter service and polling center during the 2016 Presidential Election, which provided those with disabilities the opportunity to register and vote in a “highly accessible” center. The center had ASL interpreters on hand, and is also outfitted with several architectural features that facilitate better mobility for a range of disabilities.

Over 450 individuals voted at the Independence Center during the Presidential Election.

More than 35 million Americans with disabilities – roughly one-sixth of the total electorate – are eligible to vote in the United States. This accounts for a broad range of disabilities, including mobility, communicative, physical and cognitive impairments. This ever-growing population of voters also faces educational, cultural and political barriers that can make participating in elections difficult. The EAC has a strong commitment to working with both election officials and voters with disabilities to ensure that the election process, polling places and voting service are accessible.

For more information about the “Clearies” or to speak with Chairman Masterson, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at [email protected] or 202-897-9285.

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The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) was established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). It is an independent, bipartisan commission charged with ensuring secure, accurate and accessible elections by developing guidance to meet HAVA requirements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, and serving as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration. EAC also accredits testing laboratories and certifies voting systems, as well as administers the use of HAVA funds. For more information, visit  

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