Blind Indiana voters file lawsuit searching for proper to privately forged secret poll | Nationwide Information
A coalition of blind hoosiers and disability advocates accused Indiana’s foreign ministers of violating federal law by denying blind voters the opportunity to independently and privately tag their votes.
A lawsuit filed Thursday in the Indianapolis District Court provides for blind or visually impaired voters in Indiana to use special devices to mark a postal ballot or to vote through a secure electronic portal via email.
According to the lawsuit, blind Indiana voters currently voting from home are required to have a traveling board of non-partisan electoral judges come to their place of residence and mark a postal vote according to the voter’s instructions.
The lawsuit alleges that the agreement illegally surrenders the voter to the travel agency’s schedule and removes the secret nature of the ballot, as the voter is required to communicate his or her selection of candidates to the candidates who fill out the ballot.
Also, during the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring blind voters to take in strangers with unknown health conditions into their homes, according to the lawsuit, is unnecessarily risky.
“The need to rely on someone else’s help clearly denies plaintiffs the ability to independently and privately read, mark up, and return their ballot,” the lawsuit reads.
The Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 and other federal laws allow people with disabilities to use tools and services to participate in the activities of a public facility.
The lawsuit argues that Indiana electoral officials discriminate against disabled people by not allowing blind voters to use electronic tools to mark their ballot papers privately and instead forcing blind voters to participate via the travel board if they elect to vote by post.
“Unlike many categories of sighted Indiana voters who have the freedom and flexibility to vote independently, either in person or in private by mail, blind voters are forced to give up their right to an independent and confidential vote if they choose to vote at home “the lawsuit says.
The State Secretary declined to comment, as usual, on pending legal disputes.
Dee Ann Hart, a director of the Indiana American Council of the Blind, said the Secretary of State and the Indiana Election Division are aware that Indiana’s email voting system is inaccessible to blind or visually impaired voters.
“They refused to work with us to implement an accessible home voting facility, so this suit was necessary,” said Hart.