New Law Mandating Remote Accessible Vote by Mail System Will Increase Safe, Accessible Voting Options for Voters Who Are Blind or Have Other Print Disabilities by November 2022
Contact: Cheryl Jansen, 217-303-8543, Cherylj2@equipforequality.org
STATEMENT FROM EQUIP FOR EQUALITY
On Friday, May 13, 2022, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed SB 829 into law mandating the Illinois State Board of Elections to provide a remote accessible vote by mail system that allows voters with print disabilities to electronically receive, mark and verify their ballots using assistive technology.
The new system is required to be ready for use for the November 8, 2022 election and all subsequent elections.
Under the federal Help America Vote Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, election authorities must ensure that people with disabilities can vote privately and without assistance, whether they vote in person at a polling place or by mail from home.
“People with disabilities must be afforded the same opportunity to exercise their right to vote as voters without disabilities. We commend Governor Pritzker for taking this action to expand the accessibility of vote by mail for Illinois voters with print disabilities,” said Cheryl Jansen, Public Policy Director for Equip for Equality, a non-profit group designated as the federally mandated Protection & Advocacy agency for Illinois.
“In past elections, Illinoisans who needed to vote by mail had to hand mark, sign and return a paper ballot to their local election authority. Voters with print disabilities, such as blindness, physical limitations, learning disabilities or cognitive disabilities, often needed assistance in marking, signing and returning their ballots, thereby depriving them of their right to privacy and independence,” said Jansen.
For the last two years, Equip for Equality, in collaboration with the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois and the Illinois Council of the Blind, has advocated with the Illinois State Board of Elections and state lawmakers to address this inequity.
“We thank the sponsors of this legislation, Senator Julie Morrison and Representative Katie Stuart, for their leadership and support of this important step towards achieving accessible vote by mail. We look forward to a continued partnership with them until voters with print disabilities are able to electronically return their vote by mail ballots to fully ensure their right to vote privately and without assistance,” said Jansen.
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Last updated: May 17, 2022