WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, March 15, a federal judge in Alabama dismissed a lawsuit challenging Alabama’s absentee voting process. The plaintiffs alleged that Alabama’s absentee voting process is inaccessible for blind voters and voters with print disabilities (a disability that impairs a person’s ability to read or write) despite the fact that “Alabama is one of the top eight states in the country for its percentage of residents with vision impairments (3.3%).” The plaintiffs further alleged that Alabama is violating Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act by failing to “meet [its] obligations to provide blind and print disabled voters with an equal opportunity to vote by absentee ballot.” The plaintiffs argued that Remote Accessible Vote-By-Mail systems are available in other states to provide voters with an “opportunity to cast their votes through accessible electronic absentee ballots” and ensure privacy and independence. A federal judge dismissed the case, holding that the plaintiffs did not have standing (meaning capacity to sue) over Alabama’s absentee voting system.
In his opinion dismissing the case, the district court judge wrote that “the Alabama Legislature has not given the Secretary of State the power to expand electronic absentee voting to domestic voters, nor is the Secretary in charge of distributing and collecting absentee ballots. So the court finds that Plaintiffs lack standing.” This decision is a loss for voters in Alabama, specifically those with print disabilities who would benefit from access to technology that allows them to cast absentee ballots privately and independently.