A judge said Tuesday that he expects to rule “very quickly” on a lawsuit seeking to force Maryland officials to implement an online ballot-marking tool for the blind, a case that could impact other states that don’t use the tool. Lawyers for the National Federation of the Blind are hoping to have the tool in place in time for November’s elections. Their lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, contends that the state is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act for not using the technology, which they say would safeguard blind voters’ privacy. During three days of testimony that wrapped up Tuesday, Maryland Assistant Attorney General Dan Friedman argued that officials should not be forced to use something that has not been certified by the Maryland State Board of Elections. And another advocacy group for the blind, the Maryland chapter of the American Council of the Blind, said they think the tool could be vulnerable to hackers.
Maryland: Federal judge rules lawsuit on online ballot access for the blind will go forward | Associated Press
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.
A federal lawsuit to require the state of Maryland to provide online absentee ballots designed to protect the privacy of blind and disabled voters went before a federal judge on Wednesday. The ballot-marking system enables the blind to mark their voting selections on a computer. Then, they would print out their ballot as a bar code that could not be read by someone who mails the ballot in for them. Attorneys for the American Federation of the Blind, which filed the lawsuit, are trying to persuade U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett to require Maryland to use the ballots in November’s election. Sixteen other states use the tool. However, attorneys for the American Council of the Blind in Maryland argued in court against implementing the Web-based ballot-marking system, saying it is subject to fraud and computer hackers.