US Court resurrects blind voter discrimination suit

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals  on Sunday held [opinion, PDF] that a lawsuit brought by blind voters in Ohio against Secretary of State Jon Husted  can proceed.

The suit arises out of a claim that Ohio’s use of a paper-ballot absentee voting system violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) [text] by failing to provide reasonable accommodations for the blind. Since the blind must obtain the assistance of a sighted person in order to vote, the plaintiffs contend that the state deprived them of an equal opportunity to vote independently and anonymously.

The plaintiffs have proposed rectifying the issue by having the state provide blind voters with an online alternative and implementing online ballot marking tools like those used by other states to aid the blind. It is for this reason that the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio [official site] granted defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, finding that the plaintiff’s proposed remedies did not meet the ADA’s requirements since it would fundamentally change the state’s voting system.

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