Judge Rules Case on Blind Ballot Tool to Continue - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Judge Rules Case on Blind Ballot Tool to Continue

Posted:

BALTIMORE (AP) - A federal judge says he has heard enough evidence that disabled residents can't take full advantage of absentee voting to press ahead with a lawsuit filed by the National Federation of the Blind against the state of Maryland.

U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett denied a request by a state attorney to rule Thursday on the lawsuit over voting rights for the disabled.

Bennett ruled that the case against the state of Maryland will go forward in an effort to determine whether the state should be required to implement an online ballot-marking system designed to protect the privacy of blind voters.

Lawyers for the National Federation for the Blind rested their case against the state Thursday.

The organization contends Maryland is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, because it fails to safeguard the guaranteed right to privacy when voting.

The plaintiffs contend that blind voters currently can't even be sure if another person will record their vote as they wish. They say the ballot-marking system assures them their intended vote had been recorded. They also say the ballot-marking system enables blind and disabled voters to vote privately and independently, without having to make their vote known to an elections judge or family members.

Bennett noted that Maryland allows anyone to vote by absentee ballot, regardless of the reason.

"And there has been sufficient evidence that has been offered to me thus far to note that individuals with disabilities represented by the plaintiffs cannot take advantage of that absentee voting and are essentially being excluded in that fashion," Bennett said.

Bennett spoke after hearing testimony from a blind and deaf resident from Bowie, Maryland, who described the trouble she has experienced at polling places while trying to vote.

Janice Toothman cited having problems with poll workers programming a non-visual key card correctly so she could vote independently and privately. Toothman said poll workers even asked if someone could vote for her.

"To me, anything has got to be better than the current system," Toothman said.

The lawsuit is opposed by another group for the blind, the Maryland chapter of the American Council of the Blind. Attorneys for that group contend the online ballot system is not accessible and subject to fraud.

Cindy LaBon, the group's president, testified that she supports a fully accessible ballot-marking tool for blind voters, but the one considered for use in Maryland isn't good enough. LaBon testified she is concerned that if the current tool is implemented its shortcomings will be forgotten, and needed improvements won't be made.

"It must be fully accessible," LaBon said.

The case is being heard after the Maryland State Board of Elections failed to certify the tool. The vote was 3-1 in favor of certification, but a vote of 4-1 was needed to certify the new system.

Dan Friedman, an assistant attorney general representing the state, said the case centers on a law that requires the elections board to certify a new ballot system. He also said the state is not in conflict with the federal Americans with Disabilities law, because the plaintiffs would need to prove people with disabilities are being deprived of meaningful access to absentee voting. He said 99 percent of the state's polling places are accessible to them.

Testimony is scheduled to continue Aug. 26. Bennett said he expects to issue his opinion that week.

 

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Delaware Man Charged In Hawaii Nightclub Shooting

    Delaware Man Charged With Hawaii Nightclub Shooting

    09/21/2017 16:40:00 -04:002017-09-21 20:40:00 GMT
    Thursday, September 21 2017 4:45 PM EDT2017-09-21 20:45:57 GMT
    A Dover woman was arrested after providing officers with a fake name.A Dover woman was arrested after providing officers with a fake name.
    A former Delaware death-row inmate who brought an 18-year-old Delaware man to Hawaii to get a fresh start says the teen has been falsely accused of a deadly shooting because he's black.More
    A former Delaware death-row inmate who brought an 18-year-old Delaware man to Hawaii to get a fresh start says the teen has been falsely accused of a deadly shooting because he's black.More
  • Dover Police Arrest Three for Possession of Drugs & Firearms

    Dover Police Arrest Three for Possession of Drugs & Firearms

    09/20/2017 13:22:00 -04:002017-09-20 17:22:00 GMT
    Wednesday, September 20 2017 2:26 PM EDT2017-09-20 18:26:10 GMT
    DOVER, Del. - The Dover Police Department have arrested three people on drug and firearms charges during a traffic stop.Officers conducted a traffic stop in the area of S. Saulsbury Road and West North Street after the vehicle was seen leavingMore
    DOVER, Del. - The Dover Police Department have arrested three people on drug and firearms charges during a traffic stop.Officers conducted a traffic stop in the area of S. Saulsbury Road and West North Street after the vehicle was seen leavingMore
  • Salisbury City Police Obtain Surveillance Footage of Cook Out Assault

    Salisbury City Police Obtain Surveillance Footage of Cook Out Assault

    09/21/2017 17:18:00 -04:002017-09-21 21:18:00 GMT
    Friday, September 22 2017 7:29 AM EDT2017-09-22 11:29:31 GMT
    Cook OutCook Out
    Salisbury police are hoping that surveillance footage taken at the Cook Out restaurant on the city's south side will help them locate seven people who attacked four Salisbury University students early Saturday morning.More
    Salisbury police are hoping that surveillance footage taken at the Cook Out restaurant on the city's south side will help them locate seven people who attacked four Salisbury University students early Saturday morning.More
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Salisbury City Police Obtain Surveillance Footage of Cook Out Assault

    Salisbury City Police Obtain Surveillance Footage of Cook Out Assault

    Salisbury City Police are hoping that surveillance footage of an assault at Cook Out will help them in finding seven people who physically attacked four Salisbury University students in the early hours of Saturday morning.

    More

    Salisbury City Police are hoping that surveillance footage of an assault at Cook Out will help them in finding seven people who physically attacked four Salisbury University students in the early hours of Saturday morning.

    More
  • Woman Makes 125-Mile Journey Across Tubman Byway

    Woman Makes 125-Mile Journey Across Tubman Byway

    It's 9 a.m. and Mashona Council is beginning her day. After spending Wednesday night at the James Webb Cabin in Preston, Md., a stop near the Underground Railroad, she's gearing up for her journey. It's a journey she says is both literal and metaphorical. Council says she's walking the whole 125-miles of the byway for herself.

    More

    It's 9 a.m. and Mashona Council is beginning her day. After spending Wednesday night at the James Webb Cabin in Preston, Md., a stop near the Underground Railroad, she's gearing up for her journey. It's a journey she says is both literal and metaphorical. Council says she's walking the whole 125-miles of the byway for herself.

    More
  • Some Delaware Correctional Officers Concerned Over Rec. Time for Maximum Security Inmates

    Some Delaware Correctional Officers Concerned Over Rec. Time for Maximum Security Inmates

    Some correctional officers in Delaware are concerned about staffing accommodations for maximum security inmates at the Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna, a prison that experienced an inmate uprising in February in which a correctional officer died.

    Jurgen Burgoyne, a former correctional officer, said he and colleagues who still work at Vaughn are concerned about a decision to resume giving maximum security inmates 17-and-a-half hours of recreational time a week.

    More

    Some correctional officers in Delaware are concerned about staffing accommodations for maximum security inmates at the Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna, a prison that experienced an inmate uprising in February in which a correctional officer died.

    Jurgen Burgoyne, a former correctional officer, said he and colleagues who still work at Vaughn are concerned about a decision to resume giving maximum security inmates 17-and-a-half hours of recreational time a week.

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices