The federal government is investigating the City of Concord for not providing accessible voting machines for people with certain disabilities during local elections. The city may have violated federal law. Guy Woodland used his cane to find his way into a voting booth in Concord Tuesday morning. Woodland is blind. “I have a non-valid driver’s license,” he told a poll worker, “which you’re probably happy to know.” Here’s how Woodland would like to vote: on his own, with no help. As it is though, he walks into the voting booth with a poll worker. Woodland dictates his voting choices, and the poll worker, who is sworn to secrecy, fills in the bubbles. That’s despite technology – sitting on a shelf in New Hampshire – that would allow Woodland to vote without any help.
Woodland says this was the third straight city election when he couldn’t vote independently.
“Up until now, blind persons have been provided assistance,” says Woodland. “And really all we want is our independence and to have that private and confidential ballot.”
The Department of Justice has honed in on Woodland’s complaint, and is investigating in New Hampshire this month. And while the federal probe is focused specifically on the capitol city, the case has implications for how the entire state handles elections.