Federal Lawsuit Brought by DRP and Private Co-Counsel Results in Changes That Make Ballots More Accessible to Blind Voters
DRP and private co-counsel brought a federal lawsuit on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind in Pennsylvania and a blind voter, asserting that the Pennsylvania Department of State (“DOS”) violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act because its paper-based mail-in and absentee ballot process is inaccessible to blind voters who cannot use it to vote privately and independently. The court granted a preliminary injunction requiring DOS to make a temporary modification for the June 2020 primary. In August 2020, following expedited discovery and cross-motions for summary judgment, DOS announced that it contracted to implement Democracy Live’s OmniBallot tool beginning in the November 2020 election, which allows voters to receive and mark ballots electronically using screen-reader software. DOS implemented the OmniBallot tool beginning at the end of September.
The lawsuit is captioned Drenth v. Boockvar, Civ. A. No. 1:20-cv-00829 (M.D. Pa.).