Minnesota Agrees to Provide Accessible Absentee Voting Option for Blind Voters

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Minnesota Agrees to Provide Accessible Absentee Voting Option for Blind Voters

Celebrating 100 years of advocacy for the blind, the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota praises the Secretary of State’s introduction of a system by which blind Minnesotans can accessibly, safely, and privately mark their absentee ballots in time for the November 2020 election. This system is a direct result of years of advocacy from the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota—an affiliate of the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans—in partnership with the Brown, Goldstein and Levy law firm, Disability Law Center  and members of the Secretary of State’s disability advisory committee.

Without this system, blind voters would have been 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.

“The ability to cast a secret ballot has only recently become an option for blind Minnesotans, and today marks the next, right step in our decades of advocacy that increases access to voting,” said Ryan Strunk, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota. “We applaud these measures to ensure that blind Minnesotans can protect both our safety and our privacy in this election. We look forward to continuing our longstanding, nonpartisan partnership with the Secretary of State to make this system even better in the future."

Those wishing to cast an accessible absentee ballot must first request a standard absentee ballot at www.mnvotes.org/absentee. Voters with disabilities must then request an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act through the office of the county auditor. For assistance finding a specific county, call 612-872-9363. After receiving a paper ballot in the mail, voters will be emailed a link to the tool, where they can complete and print the ballot. The printed ballot must then be returned in the envelopes that were sent with the original standard paper ballot. Only the printed ballot should be sent; the standard paper ballot should be shredded.

While some assistance is still needed to sign the ballot envelope, voters have the option of keeping their choices secret for the upcoming election.

Judy Sanders
National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota