WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Sept. 6, a federal court granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit challenging Indiana’s law requiring voters with print disabilities (a disability that impairs a person’s ability to read or write) who seek to vote with at-home absentee ballots to make an appointment with a “traveling board” — election officials who visit voters’ homes to assist them with filling out their ballots. This decision means that voters with print disabilities will have the option to use the “traveling board” if they need assistance, but they will not be required to do so in the November midterm elections. Voters with print disabilities will be able to receive ballot assistance from an “individual of their own choosing, as long as the individual is not the voter’s employer, an officer of the voter’s union, or an agent of the voter’s employer or union” during the upcoming elections. This is a victory for voters with print disabilities as it grants them more options for voting during the November 2022 election.
This order comes from a lawsuit brought in December 2020 by the American Council of the Blind of Indiana, the Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services Commission and three blind voters challenging the state’s limited absentee voting options for individuals with print disabilities. The plaintiffs in the case argue that this requirement discriminates against voters with disabilities in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. This preliminary injunction comes after the court previously granted a preliminary injunction that similarly provided narrow relief regarding the “traveling board” for the May 2022 primary elections. Today, the judge also partially granted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment. The court concluded that, since “Indiana’s absentee voting procedures currently discriminate against voters with print disabilities in violation of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, some remedy is necessary.” However, the court denied the plaintiffs’ request to implement a system that uses the internet to allow blind voters to complete their ballots using screen reading technology, which the court states would “fundamentally alter Indiana’s voting procedures.” Litigation will continue so the court can determine a proper remedy to ensure that voting is accessible to those with print disabilities.