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Rissling, et al. v. Bobo, et al.

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The Southern Poverty Law Center and its co-counsel filed a federal lawsuit against three Alabama counties for their failure to provide an accessible option for absentee voting by blind and print-disabled voters.

Filed on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind in Alabama and four individuals, the lawsuit alleges that Jefferson, Mobile and Tuscaloosa counties violate the rights of blind and print-disabled voters under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by failing to provide an accessible means to mark and return absentee ballots.

Blind and print-disabled voters rely on accessible technology, such as screen readers or magnification programs, to vote independently and privately. However, the defendants have not implemented remote accessible vote-by-mail (RAVBM) systems that allow the use of such technology, making it impossible for blind and print-disabled voters to mark and return their ballots without assistance and thereby denying them their right to a secret ballot.

Technology allowing blind and print-disabled voters to read, mark and return absentee ballots electronically is readily available and being used in other states for these voters. Alabama makes an RAVBM system available to military and overseas voters but has denied its use to voters with disabilities.

By failing to implement accessible absentee voting options, the plaintiffs argue, the defendants are effectively disenfranchising blind and print-disabled voters.

The plaintiffs seek injunctive relief to compel the defendants to provide an accessible option for absentee voting.