Selecting Polling Places

Lynda Roberts, Registrar of Voters, Elections



It is the policy of the Marin County Elections Department to undertake necessary measures to locate polling places that are accessible to people with disabilities, and, if available, secure accessible locations in each precinct. [Pursuant to California Elections Code §12280]

Accessibility will be the highest priority when selecting polling places. Inaccessible facilities will be replaced with accessible facilities whenever possible. New locations will be reviewed with the Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee (VAAC). All sites will be surveyed, rated for accessibility, and mitigated with accessibility equipment and/or supplies when necessary.

On Election Day, standard equipment and supplies will be used at every polling place, including:

  • Automark accessible marking device (paddles and a sip/puff device are available upon request)
  • Accessible voting booth
  • Pen grips
  • Magnifiers
  • Curbside “Vote Here” sign with a phone number to call for assistance

Use of inaccessible locations will be considered only after conducting a search for accessible locations. Inaccessible locations will always have a call bell to assist with curbside voting.


General Criteria

Polling places in each precinct are selected using the guidelines promulgated by the Secretary of State. The Polling Place Coordinator will attempt to locate accessible sites first, and will consider parking, paths of travel on the property, public transportation if such transportation is available, and size of voting room. No site will be considered if stairs are the single point of entry.

Once a potential site is identified, Coordinator will inquire about the site’s availability. Two-thirds of the polling locations are currently designated as accessible. Coordinator will make ongoing efforts to locate additional accessible sites in precincts where such locations are not currently available.

Accessibility Surveys

Using the survey guidelines and checklist provided by the California Secretary of State, Polling Place Coordinator will conduct on-site inspections to determine the level of accessibility of each polling place. A site is considered accessible if it meets all the regulations on the checklist—either with or without temporary mitigation equipment and/or supplies.

Mitigation equipment and/or supplies include:

  • Ramps for door thresholds greater than 1/2 inch
  • Rubber mats for gaps in pavement in the path of travel
  • Reflective tape for a hazardous edge in the path of travel
  • Accessible route signs
  • Van accessible parking signs
  • Cones to create or widen an accessible parking aisle
  • Doorknob sleeves
  • Placards with room names in Braille
  • Lamps for inside the voting room
  • Outdoor lights
  • Call bells for voters to alert poll workers that assistance is needed outside

Survey Procedures

  1. Coordinator and assistant will use the following tools to survey an existing or potential polling place:
    1. Smart level
    2. Distance measuring device
    3. Measuring tape
    4. Door pressure gauge
  2. Coordinator and assistant will assess the following:
    1. Parking areas
    2. Paths of travel to the polling place
    3. Doorways, hallways, entrances
    4. Voting areas
    5. Signage
    6. Ramps, curb-ramps and slopes
    7. Elevators and lifts
    8. Restrooms if they are made available on Election Day
      [NOTE: At this time, restrooms are not surveyed since they are not made available on Election Day. A notice is included on the tri-fold information board at each polling place.]
  3. Coordinator and assistant will complete the checklist form and take photographs to document the site.
  4. Coordinator will designate a polling place as either “accessible” or “inaccessible”.
  5. Coordinator will maintain a file of completed surveys and photographs, which will be available for public inspection.
  6. Upon learning new information about a polling place, which may be provided by the movers, poll workers, and/or rovers, the Coordinator will make a site visit and re-survey the polling place if necessary.

Mitigation of Polling Places

  1. After completing the on-site survey, Coordinator will determine if the site requires temporary modifications to improve accessibility on Election Day.
  2. Coordinator will implement the required modifications by:
    1. Requesting the Logistics Division to place an order for the needed supplies.
    2. Updating all instructions including the movers’ ADA list and set-up instructions, the poll workers’ set-up instructions, and the rovers’ set-up instructions.

Inaccessible Polling Places

  1. If a polling place is determined to be inaccessible, a call bell for curbside voting will be standard equipment at that polling place.
  2. Coordinator will give a report at meetings of the Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee (VAAC) about polling places, and efforts to find accessible locations or mitigate locations. The report may include a request for help locating accessible places or suggesting ways to mitigate inaccessible locations.

Installation of Mitigation Equipment and/or Supplies


Working from the list and set-up instructions provided by the Coordinator, the moving company will install the mitigation equipment the evening before Election Day.

Poll Workers

On Election Day, poll workers will set up the small mitigation supplies, such as the Braille room name placards and doorstops, using the instructions supplied by the Coordinator. Poll workers will also use the instructions to verify accurate set up of the entire site.


On Election Day, rovers will verify that equipment has been properly installed by using photographs and diagrams provided by the Coordinator.

Notification to Voters

The Voter Information Pamphlet, mailed to all voters before every election, will provide accessibility information about their polling place. On the back cover of the pamphlet, accessibility will be indicated by YES or NO printed next to the name and location of the polling place. The pamphlet will also include a page to inform voters of services available to those with disabilities.

The Coordinator will maintain a file with survey data for each polling place, and will be prepared to answer voters’ questions about physical barriers at their polling place. The voter can then determine the level of difficulty in accessing the polling place.

Additional Assistance

If a voter is assigned to an inaccessible polling place, the Elections Department will make his or her ballot available at the nearest accessible polling place if given advanced notice. Upon request, the Registrar of Voters will send two staff members to a voter’s home to deliver and return a ballot if the voter is physically unable to get to the polls.

In order to promote maximum accessibility whenever possible, temporary mitigation efforts will be made at every polling place on Election Day, such as the use of placards with room names in Braille.

Staff Training

As needed, department staff members will attend training provided by the Department of Rehabilitation’s polling place accessibility training program to learn how to survey polling places for accessibility.

In addition, the Polling Place Coordinator will participate in the monthly conference calls of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials’ (CACEO) Voters with Specific Needs Subcommittee to stay abreast of polling place accessibility strategies.

List of Attachments

Rev. May 2016