ALERT: Disability Groups Demand Access to Virginia’s Inaccessible Absentee Voting

Image of voting stickers and text that reads "ALERT: Coalition of Disability Groups Demand Access to Virginia's Inaccessible Absentee Voting"

On the heels of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 35th anniversary of the Virginians with Disability Act, a coalition of disability organizations and individual voters sued the Commonwealth of Virginia for excluding Virginians with disabilities from absentee voting in November. 

The Commonwealth’s current absentee voting discriminates against voters who cannot mark a paper ballot due to print disabilities, including blindness. Instead of voting absentee like other Virginia citizens, these voters must reveal their choices to another person and hope that person correctly records their absentee vote or risk COVID-19 infection by traveling to the polls to vote in person.

Individuals with disabilities have a right to all aspects of the voting process, including remote absentee voting,” said Maggie Hart, Counsel at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee “The U.S Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, of which Virginia is part, has already held that voters with disabilities must have equal access to a state’s absentee voting program. We call on Virginia to do the right thing for its voters.”

Virginia already has an accessible vote-by-mail system in place for limited military voters, but refuses to roll it out to counties statewide. The suit seeks statewide implementation of the accessible vote-by-mail (RAVBM) system in time for the November 2020 election.

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