Representing a coalition of organizations and advocates for Americans with disabilities, Brown, Goldstein & Levy partner Eve Hill and lawyers from Disability Rights New York and Disability Rights Advocates, have resolved a 2020 lawsuit against the New York State Board of Elections (NYSBOE) for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by excluding New Yorkers with disabilities from their Absentee Voting program during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plaintiffs include the National Federation of the Blind of New York State, Inc., Disability Rights New York, the American Council of the Blind—New York, Inc., the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York, and several New York voters with disabilities, including Rasheta Bunting, Karen Gourgey, Keith Gurgui, and Jose Hernandez.
The settlement requires NYSBOE to create a statewide program allowing blind voters and voters with print disabilities to complete their ballots independently and privately by filling out an accessible electronic vote-by-mail ballot. Specifically, state election officials must choose a remote accessible vote-by-mail (RAVBM) system that allows blind individuals and individuals with print disabilities to use their own computers to read and mark a ballot, using their own screen-reader software that converts the ballot content into spoken words or into Braille displayed on a connected device. NYSBOE must also create a statewide portal that voters can use to request an accessible absentee ballot and train each of the fifty-eight county boards of elections on the use of the RAVBM system. The county boards of elections will provide return envelopes for the ballots, just as they do for paper absentee ballots. The inside oath envelope into which the ballot is to be placed must have a tactile marking indicating where it is to be signed, and county boards of elections to accept a signature anywhere on the envelope. County boards will also be required to help voters who do not have their own printers to facilitate the printing of their ballots.
“This settlement is a huge win for equality in the State of New York,” said Eve Hill, partner at Brown, Goldstein & Levy. “Brown, Goldstein & Levy will continue to advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities to live with dignity – and that includes casting their vote independently and privately.”
PLEASE FIND ADDITIONAL NEWS COVERAGE BELOW
- “NY to Make Absentee Ballots More Accessible for Voters with Disabilities” | City Limits | April 12, 2022
- “NYS to Create Statewide Accessible Absentee Ballot Program After Legal Battle Settled” | Norwood News | April 11, 2022
- “Voters with disabilities score big win in settlement with BOE over vote-by-mail accessibility” | Bronx Times | April 6, 2022
- “Litigation against New York State Board of Elections resolved” | Fingerlakes1.com | April 6, 2022
LEARN MORE ABOUT EVE HILL
Partner Eve Hill’s record of dedication to a wide range of civil rights cases has earned her recognition as one of the country’s leading disability rights attorneys. Her practice is dedicated to high-impact litigation on behalf of individuals with disabilities, and individuals, organizations, and agencies alike frequently tap into her wealth of knowledge to advocate on their behalf. Eve also co-leads Inclusivity, BGL’s Strategic Consulting Group that works to help public and private sector organizations and industry groups navigate the rapidly changing landscape of disability and civil rights. Prior to joining BGL, Eve served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice for six years.