California: Alameda County settles suit with blind voters | San Francisco Chronicle

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.

Malawi: Blind Voters Push for Tactile Ballots | VoA News

Malawians who are blind are pushing the Malawi Electoral Commission to make available tactile ballot guides (TBG) for them to cast their votes independently.  In previous elections, they have been relying on guides who do the marking for them. They argue that such an arrangement violates their right to choose because they were not sure if their guides had really marked on the candidate of their choice. An advocacy group for the rights of people who are deaf and blind, the Visual Hearing Impairment Membership Association, said that tactile ballots will help ensure the full participation of the disabled in the elections. “The issue is that these people seem not to be assisted in the past elections. Yes, there might have been some problems [on the part on the commission] in the past, but this time we are saying ‘no, no, no.’  These people by nature have a right to vote as human beings and children of this country,” said Hockings Munyenyembe,  program manager for the association.

Canada: Blind voters could also be disenfranchised under feds’ elections law overhaul | The Hill Times

Advocates for the blind and marginalized Canadians with a range of disabilities warned MPs Tuesday the government’s plan to legislate an end to vouching in federal elections would prevent many of the people they represent from being able to vote. Leaders from the Canadian Institute of the Blind, which lends support and volunteer services to tens of thousands of blind or partially sighted citizens, and an advocate with People First called on the Conservative government to amend key sections of controversial election legislation they said would heighten ballot box hurdles that their members and clients already face. The testimony came as a House of Commons committee hearing witnesses on Bill C-23 began a rush to jam in as many witnesses as possible in the two weeks remaining before a government-imposed May 1 deadline for the committee to complete its business and send the bill back to the House for final passage.

Ireland: Case taken over voting rights of visually impaired | The Irish Times

A campaigner for the visually impaired has brought a High Court action alleging the State has failed to provide a suitable mechanism enabling those with sight difficulties to vote by secret ballot. Robert Sinnott, a representative of the Blind Legal Alliance, argues there is no mechanism allowing him or other visually impaired people to cast their vote in a manner respecting the secrecy of their votes.

Indonesia: Election Commission sued for providing no braille templates | ANTARA News

The Indonesian General Elections Commission (KPU) will be sued by several associations for the blind grouped under “Forum of Contesting Blind” over the absence of braille templates for blind voters in the legislative elections 2014. “We will fight the injustice, what the KPU has done against blind voters. We will file a lawsuit against the KPUs decision of not providing braille templates for us,” Suhendar, the forums chairman, said here on Tuesday. The lawsuit will be filed in the Constitution Court or the State Administrative Court (PTUN).

Malta: Government exploring new technology to safeguard blind voters’ privacy | Malta Today

Representatives of the visual impaired in Malta have renewed their appeal to the government to amend electoral laws, and allow blind voters to have a person they trust assisting them while casting their vote. Currently, representatives from the Electoral Commission and the political parties assist the blind voters. “But we feel uncomfortable to vote by showing our voting preferences to four unknown persons that we have never met in our life. We deserve our privacy,” Frans Tirchett said on behalf of the visually impaired. He told Sunday newspaper Illum how they have been lobbying for legal amendments for years, but so far, its efforts, most recently a failed 2007 court case, were all in vain.