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Fourth Circuit Affirms Accessible Absentee Voting Victory
 

On February 9, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland's ruling requiring Maryland to make an accessible online ballot-marking tool available to voters with disabilities who cannot vote absentee privately and independently using a paper absentee ballot. The appellate court wrote in National Federation of the Blind v. Lamone: "Ensuring that disabled individuals are afforded an opportunity to participate in voting that is equal to that afforded others . . . helps ensure that those individuals are never relegated to a position of political powerlessness. We affirm the district court's conclusion that by effectively requiring disabled individuals to rely on the assistance of others to vote absentee, defendants have not provided plaintiffs with meaningful access to Maryland's absentee voting program."   

Voters with disabilities such as blindness and dexterity impairments were able to mark their absentee ballots using the online ballot-marking tool in the November 2014 election following the district court's order in this case.  Because of the appellate court's ruling, these voters will retain their right to vote absentee privately and independently in all future elections as well.  

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: "The right to vote is a fundamental one, and equal access to this right cannot and must not be denied to blind Americans. This ruling affirms that blind voters must have equal access to all methods of voting that are generally available to other voters, and that equal access means the ability to mark and cast our ballots privately and independently, without being forced to rely on assistance from others. This historic ruling protects the rights of the blind voters of Maryland, and sets the stage for full and equal access to voting by blind people across the nation." 

Jessie Weber argued the case and was joined on the briefs by Dan Goldstein. 

Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum
skw@browngold.com
410.962.1030

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Welcome to Bay Community Support Services (Bay-CSS). We are a full-service Agency that has provided quality support services to people with disabilities in Maryland for over 20 years. Our services include residential services, supportive employment, nursing care, transportation and more. Serving Central and Southern Maryland. Please click on the links to the left to view  our site, and contact us for more information. Thank you!

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