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SUIT: Ohio denies disabled voters equal rights

Posted: 6:38 PM, Dec 07, 2015
Updated: 2015-12-07 23:38:43Z

A federal lawsuit filed late Monday afternoon alleges Ohio denies disabled voters equal opportunities to cast their ballots.

The lawsuit was filed by Disability Rights Ohio on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind and three individuals who are blind and registered to vote in Ohio.

“It was necessary to do this to provide equal access,” said Kristen Henry, a staff attorney for Disability Rights Ohio. 

The lawsuit alleges the "inaccessible design" of the state's voter services website makes it "nearly impossible" to find the absentee ballot forms and claims the website is not designed for use with screen access software, which is used by people with visual impairments.

The lawsuit also alleges the state's paper absentee ballots are not accessible to voters who are blind and strips them of the secrecy of their ballots because they need another person to read and mark their ballots for them.

Henry said other states, including Maryland, Wisconsin and Oregon, have systems in place to make voting more accessible for visually impaired voters.

Henry told NewsChannel 5 Investigators disability advocates approached Ohio Secretary of State John Husted about their concerns and went forward with the lawsuit after his office failed take action related to their recommendations.

The lawsuit calls for changes to be made to the state's voter services website and absentee ballots by March 2016 to allow blind and visually impaired voters the opportunity to participate in the U.S. presidential primary election.

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