WASHINGTON, D.C. — Voting in New York will become easier for residents with disabilities after the New York State Board of Elections agreed to settle a lawsuit originally filed in 2020 on behalf of several disability rights groups. The lawsuit argued the state’s absentee voting system excluded voters who are unable to independently fill out paper ballots. Coupled with the risk of contracting COVID-19 from in-person voting, these voters were effectively disenfranchised.
Under the terms of the settlement, the state has until June 1 to create an electronic voting method for voters with disabilities that allows them to fill out an accessible mail-in ballot online, print it out and mail or return it to their county board of elections. The state will provide special return envelopes for these printed ballots that include tactile markings indicating where to sign and county boards will be required to accept a signature that is anywhere on the envelope. “Through this agreement, the New York State Board of Elections has made it easier for people with print disabilities to vote with greater privacy and independence,” said Timothy A. Clune, Executive Director of Disability Rights New York.