Virginia electronic voting

http://elections.virginia.gov

Everyone who needs an accessible absentee ballot should complete the absentee request form online and check the box that says you need assistance and provide your email or phone number.  The registrar is supposed to contact you to ask if you need an accessible electronic ballot. Alternatively, if you’ve already filled out the absentee application, you can call your local election official and tell them you want an accessible electronic ballot.  You will still get the paper absentee ballot packet with the return envelopes, so you can print your ballot and return it by mail.  I believe there will be 2 envelopes enclosed – you put your ballot in the privacy envelope and sign it anywhere. Then you put that in the outer envelope, which will have a tactile marking on it (like a hole punch, corner cut, or tactile sticker) so you can recognize it. And mail it back.

The guidance the state sent to local election officials is attached.

Please let us know if you experience any problems.

1)  Definitely keep sharing what you are experiencing when you try to get your ballot, and of course let us know if you get one and are able to vote.    The problems seem to be at the local registrar level, but let us know if there are problems beyond that

2)  You can also call or email disAbility Law Center VA to report the issue and get an advocate to join you on the call as a witness/advocate.  1-800-552-3962 (toll-free) or http://dlcv.org

3)  Tell everyone you know who needs to vote electronically to start the process and feel free to share the disAbility Law Center VA number with them for troubleshooting.  We aren’t sure if the state is doing effective outreach and we want to make sure everyone knows to request this, and to do it early so we have time to sort out these problems.

4)  We encourage you to submit written feedback to your registrar and the State about the process, and to send us that feedback as well.  VA is required to report on complaints and feedback as part of the consent decree.

For clarity, if you have a complaint or concern that you have direct knowledge of, or if a person who contacts you can provide details, please note the locality, the date of any calls or correspondence, and as much specificity as to the content of the conversation, and the names of the people with whom you speak.

Reach out if you have questions or need help.

accessible absentee voting in Virginia

Virginia Agrees to Provide Accessible Absentee Voting Option for Voters with Print Disabilities

The Commonwealth Agrees to Consent Decree for November 3rd Election that will Include Electronic Ballot Marking

August 31, 2020Alexandria, VA – The Commonwealth of Virginia committed to making the November 2020 election accessible and safe for voters who cannot mark a paper ballot privately and independently due to disabilities such as blindness. As a result of the lawsuit and preliminary injunction filed by several voters with disabilities, the American Council of the Blind of Virginia, and the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia, Virginia has agreed to provide an absentee ballot option that is accessible and can be marked electronically in time for the November election. Without Friday’s consent decree, these voters would be forced to either vote absentee with assistance, revealing their choices to another person and hoping that person correctly records their vote, or risk COVID-19 infection by travelling to the polls to vote in person. No voter should be faced with this untenable choice in order to exercise their right to vote.

On July 27, 2020, several voters with disabilities, the American Council of the Blind of Virginia, and the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia against the Commonwealth for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Virginia Disabilities Act. Today, Judge Hilton of the Eastern District of Virginia accepted the consent decree agreed upon by the parties, which requires that the Commonwealth provide a remote access vote by mail tool that will allow voters with print disabilities to receive and mark their ballot electronically for the election on November 3rd. The consent decree also includes measures that the Commonwealth will take to ensure that the electronic ballot option is implemented across the state and that voters receive information about how to receive an accessible ballot.

Lori Scharff, a plaintiff in this case who was not able to vote privately and independently with Virginia’s current ballot options, stated “I am so thrilled with this outcome. There are so many hurdles to voting that people don’t realize exist. I am hopeful that this agreement will demonstrate to other states that all of your citizens should be able to participate privately and independently in our elections.”

Sam Joehl, President of the American Council of the Blind of Virginia stated: “We applaud the Commonwealth for quickly recognizing that the right to vote privately and independently is essential for voters with disabilities, especially in such a consequential election during a global pandemic. We hope the state will work with the local jurisdictions to make the option for remote electronic ballot marking available to all voters with print disabilities who require this option, and promote the availability of the system to these communities. ACB stands ready to work with the state to help blind voters in Virginia exercise their right to a private and independent vote.”

“As we continue our national fight for accessible absentee and mail-in ballots, we are pleased that Virginia will now be among the growing list of states where the right of blind voters to mark our absentee ballots safely, privately and independently is secure,” said Tracy Soforenko, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia. “We urge all blind Virginians to exercise this fundamental right.”

 “Now people with disabilities in Virginia will be able to vote as if their lives depend on it – without risking their lives to do so,” said Eve Hill of Brown Goldstein & Levy..

Colleen Miller, the Executive Director of the disAbility Law Center of Virginia, stated: “”All Virginians have the right to vote privately and safely. We look forward to working with the board of elections to make that right a reality.”

“My clients are courageous individuals with print disabilities who should be able to engage in activities many of us take for granted.” said Steven Hollman, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLP. “That’s why it is especially gratifying to help ensure that they will be able to exercise the most cherished right offered in a democracy – the right to vote privately and independently — on equal terms with other voters.”

“The Washington Lawyers’ Committee is proud to represent a coalition of such strong advocates. We applaud the Commonwealth of Virginia for their efforts to work with our coalition,” said Maggie Hart, Counsel at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee “Access to a private ballot is the foundation of our democracy and this consent decree reaffirms that our Constitution applies to everyone.”

The lawsuit was filed by the American Council of the Blind of Virginia and the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia, and individual plaintiffs including Carshena Gary, Lori Scharff, Regina Root, Ph.D., Naim Muawia Abu-El Hawa, and John Halverson, Ph.D.

Link to the press release here.

Link to the Joint Motion & Proposed Order for Consent Judgment & Decree (Final Order Pending) here.

Link to filed complaint here.

Counsel for this case include Eve L. Hill of Brown Goldstein & Levy, the disAbility Law Center of Virginia, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLP, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs.

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About American Council of the Blind (ACB): The American Council of the Blind is a national grassroots consumer organization representing Americans who are blind and visually impaired. With 70 affiliates, ACB strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people. Learn more by visiting www.acb.org.

About Brown Goldstein and Levy: BGL provides the highest quality legal services to a broad range of clients, without sacrificing our sense of community and social responsibility. By elevating our clients’ voices and fighting for their rights, we seek to bring about a more just world – sometimes one dispute at a time, sometimes through systemic change.

About the disAbility Law Center of Virginia: disAbility Law Center of Virginia is the protection and advocacy agency charged by the state and federal governments, on behalf of people with disabilities, to advance independence, choice and self-determination; protect legal, human and civil rights; and eliminate abuse, neglect and discrimination of people with disabilities through zealous and uncompromising legal advocacy and representation.

About National Federation of the Blind (NFB): The National Federation of the Blind, headquartered in Baltimore, is the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans. Founded in 1940, the NFB consists of affiliates, chapters, and divisions in the fifty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. The NFB defends the rights of blind people of all ages and provides information and support to families with blind children, older Americans who are losing vision, and more. We believe in the hopes and dreams of blind people and work together to transform them into reality. Learn more about our many programs and initiatives at www.nfb.org.

About Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP: Sheppard Mullin is a full-service Global 100 firm with more than 900 attorneys in 15 offices located in the United States, Europe and Asia. Since 1927, industry-leading companies have turned to Sheppard Mullin to handle corporate and technology matters, high-stakes litigation and complex financial transactions. In the U.S., the firm’s clients include almost half of the Fortune 100. For more information, please visit www.sheppardmullin.com.

About the Washington Lawyers’ Committee: Founded in 1968, The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs works to create legal, economic and social equity through litigation, client and public education and public policy advocacy. While we fight discrimination against all people, we recognize the central role that current and historic race discrimination plays in sustaining inequity and recognize the critical importance of identifying, exposing, combatting and dismantling the systems that sustain racial oppression. For more information, please visit http://www.washlaw.org or call 202.319.1000. Follow us on Twitter at @WashLaw4CR.

AIRA and ACB partnership!

Aira and ACB Partner with New Pricing for ACB Members

Link to Announcement: https://acb.org/members-aira

Aira is proud to partner with the American Council of the Blind to make visual interpreting services available to more people. To encourage ACB members to try our service, we are extending special ACB Membership pricing from June 1 through December 31, 2020

ACB Member Intro Plan

  • Minutes: 30 per month
  • Price: $20.00 per month
  • Plan Share: no additional users 

ACB Member Enhanced Plan

  • Minutes: 140 per month
  • Price: $99.99 per month 
  • Plan Share: up to two additional users 

Plans are only available through our Customer Care Team. To qualify for these plans, one must be a member in good standing of the American Council of the Blind or its affiliates or chapters for the current membership year. Membership will be verified through our Customer Care Team.  

Aira provides visual information through our smartphone app and trained agents, 24/7, 365 days per year. Agents are screened and adhere to strict security protocols. Our app uses the camera of your smartphone plus GPS and other powerful tools to give you the visual information you need, on your terms. To learn more about Aira, visit our web site at www.aira.io or call our Customer Care Team at 1.800.835.1934.



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OrCam special offer this month

During the ACB & OrCam webinar on April 30th, we announced a special offer on OrCam products for ACB members. OrCam continues to develop its technology for the blind and visually impaired community. Recently, OrCam shared with us some great news: it has released the OrCam MyEye2 Pro and the OrCam Read.

Currently, OrCam offers ACB members a 10% discount off the MyEye2, and now, until the end of May, OrCam is offering an additional promotional discount for these 2 new products:

·     OrCam MyEye2 Pro – available at the price of the regular MyEye2 plus an additional ACB member discount

·     OrCam Read – available at a 10% discount from the retail price

For those of you who are not aware of these products, OrCam offers the most advanced wearable assistive technology that can empower and enable you to be more independent. The OrCam MyEye2 Pro and the OrCam Read can support you in education and employment. They can also improve your quality of life by allowing you access to visual information by converting images into sounds and read it to you discreetly in real time.

In order to receive your discount and locate the store closest to you, please contact OrCam rep Oded Tsin by visiting https://tinyurl.com/yaava4eh, and don’t forget to mention you are an ACB member.

ACBVA Capitol Hill Visit on Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Some veteran and some first-time ACB of Virginia members joined ACB members from across the United States on Tuesday, February 25th ,  to visit  House of Representatives and Senate offices on Capitol Hill.

During  ACB’s annual Capitol Hill Day., our members  visited    offices  of all 11 Virginia House of Representatives    and met with staff of Reps. Beyer, Connolly and Wexton as will as with staff members of Virginia’s 2 senators: Kaine and Warner.

We discussed several issues of importance to the blind and low vision community, focusing on 3 specific items:

1:     H.R. 4129, the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act of 2019, which would measure the various costs and benefits of smart adaptive low-vision aids, which would  have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to remain independent  in the home. Such personal independence would allow many individuals with visual impairments to age in place, rather than necessitating costlier institutional services.

2.   As   autonomous vehicle legislation is introduced , ACB calls on Congress to move forward with autonomous vehicle legislation that ensures equal access for people who are blind and visually impaired. 

3:   Congress must reauthorize the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act by September of 2020. 

The FAST Act  oversees the development and maintenance of roads, bridges, public transit, and rails. 

ACB calls for the inclusion of language that will 

A.  require the installation of accessible pedestrian signals at all intersections that utilize leading pedestrian interval (LPI)  signalization. 

B.  Require  the  responsible use and parking of micro and shared mobility services. 

C:  Encourage  paratransit services to evolve to on-demand transportation services similar to ride-share services.

congratulations to NOVA Chapter President Donna Browning and ACB of Virginia President Sam Joehl for leading the daylong efforts, and to Paul D’Addario , Doug Powell, Vicki Ratcliffe, and Sree Roy for   their outstanding contributions during meetings with Hill staff.

And, , an enormous thank you to Rick Browning and Sam’s friend, Beth, for their extraordinary help providing guidance as the group traveled to and  through crowded buildings on Capitol Hill.