[Nfbnet-members-list] Ohio Requires Accessible Absentee Ballots for the Blind

National Federation of the Blind webmaster at nfb.org
Tue Mar 27 00:37:57 UTC 2018

Ohio Requires Accessible Absentee Ballots for the Blind

Directive Comes after Litigation brought by Blind Voters

Columbus, Ohio (March 26, 2018): Blind voters in Ohio must be able to 
cast absentee ballots privately and independently, according to a 
recent directive from Secretary of State John Husted.

The directive comes after the United States Court of Appeals for the 
Sixth Circuit ruled that a lawsuit brought by the National Federation 
of the Blind and three blind voters could go forward. Plaintiffs were 
represented by Disability Rights Ohio and Brown, Goldstein & Levy, 
LLP. The suit sought a court order to require Husted's office to 
provide accessible ballot-marking solutions. The state had tried to 
have the lawsuit thrown out, arguing that accessible absentee ballots 
were not required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Under the directive, the state's local boards of elections must make 
remote ballot-marking systems available to voters who are blind or 
who have other disabilities in time for the November 2018 election. 
These systems can be used alongside Braille or screen reader 
technology, which reads the text on a computer's screen as spoken 
words, to allow blind voters to mark their absentee ballots without 
assistance. The ballot can then be printed and mailed to the local 
board of elections, just like any other absentee ballot. The system 
will also benefit voters who are deaf-blind or who have other 
disabilities that prevent them from visiting a polling place or 
marking a traditional ballot.

"With these changes, I hope to finally be able to cast an absentee 
ballot by myself, without any help from a sighted friend or family 
member, thus maintaining confidentiality, and not have the worry of 
getting to a polling location, just like any other Ohio voter," said 
Shelbi Hindel, one of the three named plaintiffs on the lawsuit. "I 
hope that other people with disabilities across Ohio will take 
advantage of this important new option."

"Secretary Husted's decision to respect the rights of blind absentee 
voters instead of continuing to litigate the issue is a victory for 
the blind of Ohio and the nation," said Mark A. Riccobono, President 
of the National Federation of the Blind. "The kind of ballot-marking 
solution that the blind of Ohio requested has been successfully 
implemented in other states and will allow blind Ohioans to make 
their voting selections privately and independently. The National 
Federation of the Blind urges voting jurisdictions throughout the 
United States to adopt similar systems."

"Disability Rights Ohio is pleased that Secretary of State Husted is 
moving forward with creating a system that will give people with 
disabilities equal access to the polls," said Michael Kirkman, 
Executive Director of Disability Rights Ohio. "As the new system is 
rolled out across the state, we encourage anyone who has questions or 
problems to call us."


About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), headquartered in 
Baltimore, is the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind 
Americans. Founded in 1940, the NFB consists of affiliates, chapters, 
and divisions in the fifty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. 
The NFB defends the rights of blind people of all ages and provides 
information and support to families with blind children, older 
Americans who are losing vision, and more. We believe in the hopes 
and dreams of blind people and work together to transform them into 
reality. Learn more about our many programs and initiatives at 

About Disability Rights Ohio: Disability Rights Ohio is the federally 
and state designated Protection and Advocacy System and Client 
Assistance Program for the state of Ohio. The mission of Disability 
Rights Ohio is to advocate for the human, civil and legal rights of 
people with disabilities in Ohio. Disability Rights Ohio provides 
legal advocacy and rights protection to a wide range of people with 
disabilities. Find out more at 

About Brown, Goldstein & Levy LLP: Brown, Goldstein & Levy, based in 
Baltimore, Maryland, handles both civil and criminal litigation and 
has long represented organizations and individuals with disabilities 
in high-profile, high-impact disability rights cases. For more 
information, visit 


Chris Danielsen

Director of Public Relations

National Federation of the Blind

(410) 659-9314, extension 2330

(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

<https://nfb.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=10676&qid=2195086>cdanielsen at nfb.org

Stacy Brannan-Smith

Communications Specialist

Disability Rights Ohio

800-282-9181, ext. 101

<https://nfb.org/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=10677&qid=2195086>sbrannan-smith at disabilityrightsohio.org

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