A federal judge says he has heard enough evidence that disabled residents can’t take full advantage of absentee voting to press ahead with a lawsuit filed by the National Federation of the Blind against the state of Maryland. U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett denied a request by a state attorney to rule Thursday on the lawsuit over voting rights for people with disabilities. Bennett ruled that the case against the state of Maryland will go forward in an effort to determine whether the state should be required to implement an online ballot-marking system designed to protect the privacy of blind voters in November’s election. Lawyers for the National Federation of the Blind rested their case against the state Thursday. The organization contends Maryland is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, because it fails to safeguard the guaranteed right to privacy when voting.
… The lawsuit is opposed by another group for the blind, the Maryland chapter of the American Council of the Blind. Attorneys for that group contend the online ballot system is not accessible and subject to fraud.
Cindy LaBon, the group’s president, testified that she supports a fully accessible ballot-marking tool for blind voters, but the one considered for use in Maryland isn’t good enough. LaBon testified she is concerned that if the current tool is implemented its shortcomings will be forgotten, and needed improvements won’t be made.
“It must be fully accessible,” LaBon said.