By MARC KOVAC
COLUMBUS — Local elections officials may be able to net some additional dollars from the state to improve polling places for disabled voters.
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said the state had secured $360,128 in federal funds, doled out by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Election Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities grant program.
A total of $10.8 million in disabilities election assistance was awarded nationally, according to Brunner’s office.
The Ohio funds will be used to improve accessibility to polling places and provide poll worker training, all with a focus on better serving Ohioans with disabilities. Grants will also be given to promote equal access and elections participation among the disabled and to educate such voters about polling place accessibility.
Jeff Ortega, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, said details for how allocations will be determined at the local level and time lines for implementation have yet to be finalized. But he said local elections boards will be able to seek financial assistance to install ramps, change door handles and make other improvements.
He said about half of the total funding (about $100,000 each) is preliminarily being set aside for physical improvements to polling places and poll-worker training.