A federal court has approved an agreement between the NYS Board of Elections (NYS BOE) and disability groups that provides voters a more accessible absentee ballot for the upcoming June 23 Primary Election. Following a lawsuit filed on May 22 by a disability rights coalition, the NYS BOE has agreed to email accessible absentee ballots to qualified voters with disabilities. Voters can access an Accessible Absentee Ballot Request Form on the NYS BOE website to request an accessible electronically-delivered absentee ballot.
“We are encouraged by the steps taken to ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to protect both their safety and their vote, via absentee ballot, in the upcoming June primary. However, there is still more to be done before the general election in November for the system to be fully accessible,” says the coalition, which includes Disability Rights New York; the American Council of the Blind—New York, Inc.; Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York; Disability Rights Advocates; National Federation of the Blind of New York State, Inc., represented by Eve L. Hill of Brown, Goldstein & Levy LLP; and several New York voters with disabilities, including Rasheta Bunting, Karen Gourgey, Keith Gurgui, and Jose Hernandez.
The terms of the agreement, which only applies to the June 23, 2020 Primary Election, include the following:
- A voter with a print disability can request an accessible absentee ballot using the accessible request form available online.
- The voter must send via email their completed request form to their county BOE on or before June 16. Voters can sign the form with text input or e-signature.
- The county BOE will send the accessible absentee ballot to the voter by email as soon as possible after it receives the voter’s request form. The county BOE also mails a postage paid return envelope and oath envelope to the voter.
- The voter will receive an email with the accessible ballot, and the voter can mark their selections on the computer and print it out at home.
- The voter must sign the oath envelope anywhere on the envelope, then put the ballot in the oath envelope. The voter must put the oath envelope in the larger envelope provided with paid postage by the county BOE. A voter must get the ballot in the mail by June 22, or hand-deliver it to the county BOE by June 23, 2020.
This agreement does not provide an online ballot submission option, and only applies to the upcoming June election. Plaintiffs will continue their pursuit for a fully accessible absentee ballot for the November 2020 General Election and all subsequent elections.