Professor Peter Blanck: Absentee Ballots Should Be Accessible, Especially During COVID-19

Professor Peter Blanck

An accessible absentee ballot is crucial for blind and disabled Iowa voters, advocates say — especially in COVID-19 era

(Ames Tribune | Oct. 9, 2020) Don Wirth has been legally blind for 25 years. At 70 years old, he’s at higher risk for COVID-19, so instead of going to the polls and using an accessible voting machine, he voted absentee during the primaries. His wife filled out the paper ballot for him.

“I have great confidence that she’s going to fill it out the way I want her to,” Wirth, of Ames, said. 

But Wirth knows not all blind or otherwise disabled people have a loved one they can trust to help cast their vote. And, he believes, no Iowan should be forced to surrender their privacy to exercise their constitutional right. 

“Why shouldn’t we have the same access that sighted people do when there are solutions out there that are readily available?” Wirth said …

… Peter Blanck, a law professor at Syracuse University, disagrees. Blanck has written multiple books on the ADA, served on various federal disability commissions and edits the Cambridge Disability Law and Policy Series.

“Title II of the ADA requires state and local governments to provide meaningful and equal access to all the services that they provide,” Blanck said. “A reasonable accommodation would not have to be approved through the Legislature because that’s required under (federal) law” …

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