Blind voters claim discrimination by Indiana officials

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Blind voters argue in a federal lawsuit that Indiana officials are restricting their voting rights by not adopting methods that allow them to cast ballots from home without the assistance of others.

The lawsuit filed this past week by three blind residents and two advocacy groups maintains that those who are blind or have low vision are not being allowed to vote from home in private because they must rely on the members of county traveling election boards to visit them with paper ballots.

The lawsuit contends that violates the federal Americans with Disabilities Act since Indiana doesn’t allow the blind to read and mark their ballots on computers using assistive technology, such as screen magnification or screen reading software, and then submit them to county election offices.

“Voting is one of our most important rights. By operating a voting program inaccessible to some people with disabilities, Indiana is creating unnecessary and unlawful barriers to the voting process,” said Tom Crishon, the legal director at Indiana Disability Rights. “Voters with disabilities must have equal access to all aspects of Indiana’s voting program, including absentee voting.”

The lawsuit against the Indiana secretary of state’s office and the state election commission seeks a court order that the state must provide a method for blind voters to complete absentee ballots in private.

The secretary of state’s office declined to comment on the lawsuit.