Indiana Absentee Voting Challenge
American Council of the Blind of Indiana v. Indiana Election Commission
Lawsuit filed on behalf of the American Council of the Blind of Indiana, the Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services Commission and three blind voters challenging the state’s limited at-home absentee voting options for individuals with print disabilities (a disability that impairs a person’s ability to read or write). Because the state only provides standard print-based paper absentee ballots that cannot be read by those with print disabilities, the complaint argues that these voters must rely on third-party assistance to complete their ballots. Indiana law requires voters with print disabilities who seek to vote with an at-home absentee ballot to make an appointment with a “traveling board” — election officials who visit voters’ homes to assist them with filling out their ballot — in order to vote. The plaintiffs allege that this “de facto requirement to obtain third-party assistance” discriminates against voters with disabilities in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. The lawsuit asks the court to order Indiana to “offer alternative format absentee ballots that will suffice to enable voters with vision disabilities to cast absentee votes in future elections in a private and confidential manner.”
The court issued a preliminary injunction changing the rules for at-home absentee voting for voters with disabilities for the state’s May 2022 primary and November 2022 midterm elections, allowing Indiana voters with print disabilities to “complete their mail-in ballots with the assistance of an individual of their own choosing,” as long as the individual is not their employer or union representative. In January 2023, the parties informed the court that the state has a contract through June 2024 to implement a Remote Accessible Vote-By-Mail (“RAVBM”) ballot marking machine that’s accessible to voters with print disabilities, thereby meeting the plaintiffs’ request that voters with print disabilities have an accessible and private method to vote in compliance with federal law. After the parties reached an agreement, the case was dismissed on Feb. 27, 2023.