By Western New York Independent Living
As it has always supported the right of people with disabilities to be able to privately cast their votes, the Western New York Independent Living Inc. family of agencies (WNYIL) applauds the success of five disability rights organizations in settling a March 22 lawsuit with the New York State Board of Elections (NYSBOE) to ensure people with disabilities have the right to an accessible absentee ballot. Reached just last week, the agreement requires that eligible individuals must apply to their county boards of elections (BOEs) by Tuesday, June 16, for a ballot to vote in the June 23 primary election or a special election being held on June 23 to fill a vacancy in the 27th Congressional District (counties: Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wyoming, part of Erie, Monroe, Niagara, and Ontario). Completed ballots would have to be emailed by June 22 or delivered to the county BOE in person by June 23.
Here is the process, step-by-step:
√ A voter who is unable to mark a paper ballot because of a disability can request an accessible absentee ballot online by using the request form found here:
One may need to download this form to a device and open in Adobe to complete and send by email.
Again, the voter must email their completed request form to their county BOE on or before June 16.
√ Voters can sign the request form with text input or e-signature.
√ The county BOE will email the accessible absentee ballot to the voter as soon as possible after it receives the voter’s request form. The county BOE also mails a postage-paid return envelope and oath envelope to the voter.
√ On the electronic ballot, the voter can mark selections on the computer and print it out at home.
√ The voter must sign the oath envelope anywhere on the envelope, then put the ballot in the oath envelope. The voter must put the oath envelope in the larger envelope provided with paid postage by the county BOE. A voter must get the ballot into the mail by June 22, or hand-deliver it to the county BOE by June 23.
For more information about New York’s new accessible absentee ballot process, contact WNYIL’s chief policy officer, Todd Vaarwerk, at 716-836-0822, ext. 101, or email [email protected]. As he is working outside the office, please allow some time for him to respond.
Our congratulations go out to the litigants, which include WNYIL’s sister agency, the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York (CIDNY); Disability Rights New York (DRNY); the American Council of the Blind – New York Inc. (ACB); Disability Rights Advocates (DRA); National Federation of the Blind of New York State Inc. (NFB), and four individual citizens.