An agency advocating for the disabled has sued Secretary of State Jon Husted for allegedly denying voters who are blind equal access to absentee voting and his state website. Disability Rights Ohio filed a lawsuit on Monday in U.S. District Court in Columbus on behalf of three residents of Columbus, Cincinnati and Oberlin, Ohio, as well as the National Federation of the Blind. The suit alleges that Husted, as the state’s chief elections officer, has denied “individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to vote absentee privately and independently and to access its voter services website, in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.” The suit seeks an injunction against Husted, plus attorney fees and costs.
“In Ohio, vision-impaired voters have numerous opportunities to participate in elections,” said Husted spokesman Joshua Eck. But, he continued, “any significant modification to the current system would require approval from the state legislature before our office could begin implementation.”
Kristen Henry, a staff attorney for Disability Rights Ohio, said Husted’s website is inaccessible to people who are blind because it does not allow use of special screen-reading software that translates written words into speech. She said government agencies are required to provide access for the disabled through the ADA.