A federal appeals court on Monday revived a lawsuit filed by a national advocacy group for the visually impaired against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted that says the state’s voting regulations violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. The National Federation of the Blind’s 2015 lawsuit alleges that the state’s system of only allowing absentee voters to cast their ballots on paper infringes on the right of blind people to vote privately and independently. Senior U.S. District Judge George Smith had dismissed the lawsuit, which also included three blind Ohio voters as plaintiffs, before either the advocacy group or Husted had conducted any discovery. A three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said the dismissal was premature. The 6th Circuit’s decision means the case will be sent back to Smith to be litigated.
As it stands, the visually impaired need help from someone who can see to properly fill out the paper ballot. The advocacy group says the ADA requires an accommodation that would allow disabled persons to cast their ballots on their own and that if visually impaired voters were emailed absentee ballots, as are military and overseas voters, they could complete the ballot using screen access software and print it out.
The state of Maryland uses software to allow blind voters to cast their ballots online. Alaska, New Hampshire, Oregon and Wisconsin use similar programs, the 6th Circuit wrote in its opinion.
You can read the full ruling here.