Federal judge: Blind denied absentee voting access in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Blind Ohio residents have been denied “meaningful access” to the swing state’s absentee voting system, but implementing changes would require fundamentally altering the entire voting system, a federal judge said.

U.S. District Judge George Smith’s made the ruling Wednesday, noting there isn’t enough time before the fall election to certify a new voting system, The Columbus Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/1T97b1O ).

Disability Rights Ohio filed a lawsuit in December alleging blind people and those with certain disabilities are being denied an equal opportunity to independently and privately vote absentee by mail. They also claimed that Secretary of State Jon Husted’s (HYOO-steds) website doesn’t work with software that would improve the site’s accessibility.

Husted, a Republican, contended that county boards of election already offer special accommodations for blind voters.

Smith encouraged the group and Husted to continue to work on the issue. Both sides claimed victory after the ruling.

“Today’s ruling reaffirms that our system of elections is fair for all voters,” Husted said in a statement. “We have worked in every aspect of Ohio elections to improve voter access, but every change we make must be done the right way.”

But Disability Rights Ohio said the ruling found Husted is violating the rights of blind voters. The agency said it plans to appeal.


Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

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