Blind voters in Alameda County may soon have an easier time voting in privacy after settling a lawsuit requiring better testing and upkeep of audio equipment that allows them to cast push-button secret ballots. The settlement follows a 2013 federal court ruling that applies disability law to the ballot box. The legal advocacy group Disability Rights Advocates announced the three-year settlement Wednesday after approval by county supervisors earlier this month. Prompted by blind voters’ complaints about equipment breakdowns in the 2012 elections, the agreement includes requirements for pre-election testing of each machine, hands-on training of poll workers, and an election day hotline to quickly repair or replace nonfunctioning equipment.
“This settlement greatly enhances the ability of Alameda County voters who are blind or have low vision to exercise their right to vote privately and independently,” said Jeff Thom, president of California Council of the Blind, which filed the suit along with five voters in July 2013.
A 2006 federal law requires election officials to install at least one machine in each polling place that allows blind and visually impaired voters to listen to voting instructions and ballot options on headphones and make their choices on tactile keyboards. According to the lawsuit, breakdowns in four Alameda County polling places in 2012, and poll workers’ inability to fix the machines or find others that worked, required each of the five individual plaintiffs to cast their votes by announcing them to a poll worker or a family member.
Full Article: Alameda County settles suit with blind voters – SFGate.