Elections Accessibility Plan
The City of Hamilton is committed to ensuring that the Municipal and School Board Election is accessible to all citizens of Hamilton - including all voters, candidates, employees and volunteers who participate in the election administration.
The City of Hamilton’s Accessible Election Plan 2022 supports and enhances the City's policies, the multi-year Accessibility Plan (2020 to 2025) and the City’s commitment to respond to the needs of persons with disabilities.
The Municipal Elections Act, 1996 (MEA) requires a clerk who is responsible for conducting an election shall have regard to the needs of electors and candidates with disabilities.
The MEA also requires that in establishing the locations of voting places, the clerk shall ensure that each voting place is accessible to electors with disabilities.
As per Section 12.1, the clerk shall prepare a plan regarding the identification, removal and prevention of barriers that affect electors and candidates with disabilities and shall make the plan available to the public before voting day in a regular election.
The focus of the Accessible Election Plan 2022 is to:
- ensure that electoral services are accessible to all eligible voters and candidates;
- engage with equity seeking and citizen advisory committees to help identify additional barriers to voting
- identify and eliminate barriers for persons with disabilities; and
- create a positive and inclusive voting experience for all electors.
Key Areas of Focus in Elections Process
To prevent and address accessibility barriers for the 2022 municipal election, and to parallel the strategic goals outlined in the City’s Multi-year Accessibility Plan, these key areas were identified and focused on throughout the election planning process:
The City is committed to ensuring that communications and information is shared in a manner that is accessible for all electors.
Initiative 1. Provide an informative and accessible election website
- Ensure election information is available in clear, simple language.
- Continuously update election information posted on the City's website to reflect the most recent information
- Enhance the City's “Where Do I Vote?” web application to provide accessibility information about voting places.
- Ensure election web pages are W3C Consortium WCAG 2.0 Level A compliant
- Establish a dedicated accessibility section on the election’s website that provides information on the initiatives undertaken by the City Clerk's Office.
- Build and implementation a virtual agent function on the City’s website to assist electors with questions and accessing information.
- Provide a feedback mechanism on the website for electors to provide feedback on accessibility in the election
Initiative 2. Provide election information in alternative formats and through multiple channels
- Present information about election accessibility to stakeholder and community organizations
- Produce “How to Vote” Resources in English and Additional Languages
- Produce an accessible “How to Vote” Video and post to the City’s Website
- Build and implement a voice assistant to assist electors using smart home features.
The City is committed to ensuring that voting places are accessible for all electors.
Initiative 1. Ensure all Voting Places are accessible to voters with disabilities
- Engage with community stakeholders on voting place selection criteria
- Review and update voting place accessibility checklist
- Review all potential voting places with consideration for public transit access where applicable
- Review all potential voting places for accessibility features, including:
- door operators / accessible doors
- barrier-free parking
- accessible ramps and thresholds
- a barrier-free path of travel from the parking lot
- adequate lighting
- Inspect all voting locations prior to Voting Day to ensure accessibility for all voters
- In the event of disruption or unforeseen circumstances requiring a poll location to be closed, a back-up poll location identified and secured that meets accessibility standards
- In the event of disruptions to service or unforeseen circumstances that affect the accessibility of voting places during the Advance Vote or on Voting Day, notices of disruption will be posted as soon as possible:
- on the City's website
- on the City’s social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn)
- at the site of the disruption
- when applicable, a media advisory will be issued.
Initiative 2. Ensure all Voting Place access routes and entrances are clearly identified
- Ensure voters with accessibility needs are directed to the accessible voting entrance by prominent signage.
- Use large-print signage at voting places
- Train election workers to communicate with people who are blind or have low vision.
- Consult on best practices in signage and identification
Initiative 3. Ensure all Voting Place owners and managers are aware of accessibility requirements
- Notify all voting place owners and managers of legislative accessibility requirements in order to prevent last minute changes to voting places
- Welcome the use of support persons and service animals in voting places.
- Educate elections staff on appropriate communication with voters and service animals
Initiative 4. Provide a system to deal with accessibility issues, concerns or complaints
- Establish a website link to an accessibility feedback form so an elector who encounters an accessibility issue can contact Election or Accessibility staff
- Use the received feedback to ensure that voting places are accessible to voters, as required by the Municipal Elections Act, 1996
Initiative 5. Provide information on the accessibility features available at each Voting Place
- Provide details of accessibility features available to voters and candidates at Advance Vote locations on the City’s website
- Provide details of accessibility features available to voters and candidates at voting places on Voting Day on the City’s website.
The City is committed to providing electors with options for voting and ensuring that each method of voting is accessible.
Initiative 1. Provide accessible voting opportunities
- Provide voters with the option to vote by mail
- Provide voters with the option to vote by proxy
- Review ballot design to increase legibility
- Increase legibility of ballots through use of accessible font styles, appropriate case usage, and colours, where possible
- Provide an accessible ballot-marking device at all advanced polls, and one in each ward on Election day for independent voting via “sip-and-puff”, the use of paddles, or a tactile device
- Provide magnifiers, pens and paper at all voting place
Initiative 2. Provide voting opportunities in institutions and long-term care facilities and for underserved communities
- Establish voting places at the following facilities in order to allow eligible residents of the facility the opportunity to vote:
- any institution in which 20 or more beds are occupied by persons who are disabled, chronically ill or infirmed
- a long-term care facility in which 50 or more beds are occupied.
- Provide additional lead time for voting to occur at institutions to ensure all voters have time to cast their ballots by voting day
- Establish Polls in locations that fall outside of those legislated but which specifically provide seniors, post-secondary students, Indigenous electors, and electors experiencing homelessness, and indigenous with an additional and focused voting opportunity
Initiative 3. Provide assistance to voters with disabilities as requested
- Ensure that voters using DARTS to get to a poll location on a voting day have front of the line access, reducing their time at the poll and ensuring that their transportation will wait for them.
- Upon request, provide voters with the opportunity to vote from anywhere at the voting place (including curbside) with assistance from a Managing Deputy Returning Officer and a Deputy Returning Officer.
- Upon request, assist the elector with voting or reading of ballot.
- Train Deputy Returning Officers to assist voters with voting process when requested
- Enable voters to swear an oath if they are unable to provide the required identification and/or documentation with a signature.
- Allow voters to bring a friend or interpreter to assist them as required with the voting process
Initiative 4. Provide instructions on the use of accessible voting equipment
- Produce videos that outline the voting process and the accessible voting technologies in use for the election. Videos will include accessible elements and captioning, and post the videos on the City’s website
- Provide pictorial instructions on voting processes
The City is committed to ensuring that recruiting and staffing practices are accessible, and that staff are trained and supported to provide accessible customer service.
Initiative 1. Provide accessibility training to all workers who participate in the election
- Develop an Accessible Election Manual providing direction on how the City of Hamilton will address the needs of persons with disabilities during the election and distribute the manual during training.
- Develop accessibility training and reference materials for all elections staff, including:
- how to interact and communicate with persons with various types of disabilities;
- how to interact with persons who use assistive devices or require the assistance of a service animal or support person;
- how to use voting equipment and assistive devices to deliver election services;
- what to do if a person is having difficulty accessing election information or services
Initiative 2. Ensure the recruitment process for applicants is accessible
- Provide accommodations and special services for testing and interviews, upon request
- Ensure the worker's manual and/or other relevant materials are available in an accessible format, upon request.
The City is committed to ensuring that Candidates with accessibility needs are provided with assistance and support as requested.
Initiative 1. Provide candidates with access to information in alternative and accessible formats
- Ensure the candidate guide and/or other relevant publications are available in an accessible format, upon request
- Provide the City of Hamilton’s Voters' List in an electronic format to candidates
- Meet with Candidates to provide an overview of the election processes
- Hold candidate information sessions in accessible locations and virtually
- Provide accommodations and special information services upon request
Post Election Accessibility Report
Within 90 days after voting day in a regular election, the clerk shall prepare a report about the identification, removal and prevention of barriers that affect electors and candidates with disabilities and shall make the report available to the public, as per Section 12(3) of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996.