INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosier voters who are blind or have low vision are suing the Indiana Election Commission and Secretary of State over absentee voting.
According to plaintiffs Rita Kersh, Kristin Fleschner and Wanda Tackett, Indiana only permits them to vote at home by appointment with a “traveling board” of elections officials.
They claim this leads voters who are blind to choose between giving up their right to vote privately and independently, risk exposing themselves to COVID-19 at the polls, or not voting at all.
Instead, they say they should be allowed to use electronic options that let them vote privately.
The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in the Southern District of Indiana Thursday.
“The American Council of the Blind of Indiana has tried to bring this problem to the IEC and SOS’s attention, but they have declined to work with us to implement an accessible way to vote at home. That’s why this suit was necessary,” said Dee Ann Hart, a member of the Board of Directors of the ACB-I and its Advocacy and Awareness Committee Chair.
The suit claims the Indiana Election Commission and the Secretary of State have had over 30 years to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It also gives examples of accessible absentee voting programs being used in other states.
“Because of Indiana’s restrictive requirements, I was deprived of my vote during this year’s general election,” said Tackett. “My niece has vision impairment and I work with a young boy who is blind, and through this case, I want to empower them and other future voters to make sure that this kind of violation never happens again.”
“Let’s make equal access an integral part of voting and find ways to increase civic engagement rather than make it hard,” Fleschner said. “Our officials and policies will only represent our ideals if everyone is able to vote privately and independently.”
The lawsuit is not seeking money, but instead a solution that will allow Hoosier voters who are blind to vote absentee privately.