Brown, Goldstein & Levy partner Gregory Care reached a settlement with the New Hampshire Department of State and Secretary William Gardner on behalf of a coalition of disability rights organizations and its members, including the National Federation of the Blind. The settlement resolves outstanding issues from a lawsuit filed by BGL and the New Hampshire protection and advocacy center last year in the months preceding the 2020 state and federal elections.
Greg worked alongside a BGL legal team consisting of Associate Abigail Graber, and Litigation Paralegals Katherine Garvey and Samantha Duckworth. The case benefitted greatly from the experiences of BGL’s broader NFB voting rights litigation team, including Eve Hill, Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum, Kobie Flowers, Jamie Strawbridge and others.
The original lawsuit claimed that the Department of State and its Secretary discriminated against voters with disabilities who are unable to independently and privately mark an absentee paper ballot due to blindness, low vision or physical disability. Prior to a hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction last year, New Hampshire agreed to implement an accessible method for print-disabled voters in the state to receive and mark their absentee ballots and to make their informational brochures and forms accessible.
This settlement requires the State to make its voter registration and information websites accessible to blind people and people with low vision who use text-to-speech screen readers and/or Braille devices to access the internet. It will also continue to use the remote accessible vote-by-mail system.
The State’s election officials still need to investigate if a system allowing for the electronic return of absentee ballots by voters with disabilities can be implemented in time for the 2024 general election. The settlement ensures a commitment by the Secretary to revisit and continue to discuss the viability of “e-return” in the coming years.
The coalition included the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the National Federation of the Blind of New Hampshire (NFBNH), Granite State Independent Living (GSIL) and four New Hampshire voters with disabilities – Daniel Frye, Jean Shiner, Daniel Hebert and Jeffrey Dickinson. BGL represented these parties alongside the Disability Rights Center – New Hampshire (DRC-NH).
“We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this lawsuit,” Greg said. “The settlement makes significant and necessary improvements in the accessibility of voting for people with disabilities as well as information about voting in New Hampshire. We look forward to building on these improvements in the coming years.”
ABOUT GREGORY CARE
Greg Care advocates for his clients in a diverse array of civil litigation and appeals, including a variety of employment matters, academic discipline disputes, and cases to vindicate the rights of persons with disabilities to pursue independent lives. In every case, Greg tailors his approach to each client’s particular situation and goals to achieve the best possible result in the given circumstances – there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to the unique factors in each case.