[Michigan-at-Large] Time-sensitive Information: Blind Pennsylvanians Win Victory on Absentee Voting
National Federation of the Blind
webmaster at nfb.org
Thu May 28 20:30:19 UTC 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BLIND PENNSYLVANIANS WIN VICTORY ON ABSENTEE VOTING
_STATE ORDERED TO IMPLEMENT SYSTEM ALLOWING THE BLIND TO CAST ABSENTEE AND
MAIL-IN BALLOTS PRIVATELY AND INDEPENDENTLY_
HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA (MAY 28, 2020): A federal district judge has
ordered the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to provide an accessible write-in
ballot (AWIB) to blind Pennsylvania voters for the June 2 primary election.
The ruling is a victory for Joseph Drenth, a blind Chalfont resident, who
fears going to his local polling place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Drenth's immune system is slightly compromised, and his wife and
mother-in-law, with whom he lives, both have asthma and complicating
The Honorable Jennifer P. Wilson, district judge for the Federal District
Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, issued a temporary
restraining order after a Wednesday hearing in the lawsuit that Mr. Drenth
and the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania (NFB-PA) filed
last week. The court's order requires the state to provide blind voters
with a list of the candidates on the ballot for their voting district along
with an accessible electronic form on which they can type in their choices
for each office. Blind Pennsylvania voters who wish to use the AWIB must
request the accessible form by no later than 8PM on Friday, May 29.
Eligible voters must have applied for an absentee or mail-in ballot by the
May 26, 2020 deadline, and not yet have submitted a paper ballot. The AWIB
must be submitted along with a declaration and a valid identification
number. Voters must return their AWIB materials by first-class mail or
hand-delivery to the County Board of Elector's office in the voter's
jurisdiction by no later than 8:00 p.m. on June 2, 2020.
More details are available in this press release  from the Pennsylvania
Department of state.
The lawsuit, which will continue in order to resolve the question of
accessible absentee and mail-in ballot solutions for elections later this
year, alleges violations of Title II of the Americans with disabilities act
(ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973. The plaintiffs
were represented by Disability Rights Pennsylvania  and Brown Goldstein
Levy LLP .
"Although this temporary solution is not ideal, we commend Judge Wilson for
ruling expeditiously, for making it clear that commonwealth officials must
respect the rights of blind voters, and for recognizing that the status quo
was unacceptable," said Lynn Heitz, president of the National Federation of
the Blind of Pennsylvania. "In light of this ruling and the judge's clear
direction at the hearing, we hope that the commonwealth will work quickly
with us to identify and implement a fully ADA-compliant voting solution for
ABOUT THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), headquartered in Baltimore, is
the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans. Founded
in 1940, the NFB consists of affiliates, chapters, and divisions in the
fifty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. The NFB defends the rights of
blind people of all ages and provides information and support to families
with blind children, older Americans who are losing vision, and more. We
believe in the hopes and dreams of blind people and work together to
transform them into reality. Learn more about our many programs and
initiatives at www.nfb.org .
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)
cdanielsen at nfb.org
National Federation of the Blind | 200 E Wells Street | Baltimore, MD
21230 | 410-659-9314
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