State of California

California Ballot Return Accessibility Challenge

California Council of the Blind v. Weber

Lawsuit filed on behalf of three voters with print disabilities and two blind advocacy groups against California Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) challenging California’s requirement to return mail-in ballots by paper-based methods. Print disabilities include blindness, visual impairment, intellectual disabilities and other impairments that prevent a voter from reading, marking or handling a paper ballot on their own. Although voters with print disabilities can mark their ballots electronically, under the state’s current procedures, voters must print out their ballots, place them in government issued envelopes and sign and seal those envelopes before they return them. These requirements have led voters with print disabilities to seek assistance to vote by mail or avoid voting by mail at all.

The plaintiffs allege that this requirement is inaccessible to some blind voters who need accommodations to electronically submit their ballots. The plaintiffs argue this requirement discriminates against blind voters in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which require the state to ensure people with disabilities can equally access public programs like voting systems. They also claim this requirement violates a state law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. They are asking the court to block this requirement and order the secretary of state to create an option for blind voters to submit their mail-in ballots electronically.

STATUS: A motion for a preliminary injunction is pending before the court. A hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for June 17, 2024.

Case Documents

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