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Questions arise about voter accessibility during August primary day in Nashville

Disabled Citizen Voting Concerns
Posted at 9:11 PM, Aug 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-09 14:44:55-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — When it comes to the rights Americans have, John Fields says voting is right at the top.

"It's very important because it's the only way you can have things that you want to happen in your neighborhood or society," Fields said.

But Fields said on election day last week, he ran into trouble. From his motorized wheelchair, he usually votes early at the Bordeaux Library, with ample and obvious accessible entrances.

But this year, Fields needed to vote on election day, where he was assigned a new polling location like most other Nashville voters this year. His was the nearby Denton's Chapel United Methodist Church.

Fields said his wife scoped out the location, and that an election worker showed her where the accessible entrance was around back, but she figured her husband wouldn't be able to get his motorized chair, which weighs 600 pounds, over the lip of the sidewalk that leads to the door.

Fields' wife told him it didn't look like he'd be able to vote.

"To be honest, I was kind of blindsided, kind of stunned," Fields said.

Fields' wife reached a 1-800 number meant to report voting irregularities, but it was a national hotline answered in New York, not local officials.

The Davidson County Election Administrator said the polling location at Denton's Chapel United Methodist Church was handicapped accessible, with a lift inside the building, not seen from the outside, saying they actually helped a person in a powered wheelchair vote during election day.

But Fields said he wishes it was more clear who to contact with concerns about voting.

Davidson County election officials said voters should call them directly with concerns about access to voting. It's a local, not national toll-free number.

They say they can help figure out how to get your ballot cast if there's a problem.

The Davidson County Election Commission says if you have special needs or concerns on or before election day, you can call them directly at 615-862-8800
.