by Karen Sheek
From the Editor: In the May issue we ran an article by Curtis Chong about the opposition of the League of Women Voters to legislation being considered to make it easier for blind people to cast votes privately and independently, including from their home. The League of Women Voters takes issue with some of the characterizations of what was portrayed as its position, and we gladly print them here. The League’s response is written by its president, and we appreciate the dialogue. We will no doubt have more conversation on this topic as our nation and its blind citizens negotiate systems that are both accessible and secure:
In response to Curtis Chong’s opinion piece published in the May 2021 edition of the Braille Monitor:
With respect, Mr. Chong misstated or left out significant points regarding the League of Women Voters’ stance on ballot security for those living with disabilities, in particular around SB21-188. While we agree completely that elections should be open so that every voter can vote privately, independently, and in a manner that doesn’t require extraordinary effort and negotiation, we also know that the threat of ballot tampering weakens confidence in our democracy. Actual ballot tampering disenfranchises the voices of voters who deserve to be heard and, unlike bank transactions, is difficult to trace because we have an election system designed for secret and anonymous ballots.
LWVCO never opposed SB21-188. We had an Amend position until the print disability amendment passed; then we supported the bill. Curtis Chong worked with LWVCO on April 4th to identify an appropriate print disability amendment.
Update: As of May 20, 2021, SB21-188 with the print disability amendment is awaiting the governor’s signature. The amended bill has LWVCO support.
LWV’s mission is “Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.” LWV does not stay clear of politics; we stay clear of partisan politics. We want to empower voters who need electronic ballot return but simultaneously defend democracy by not encouraging abuse of electronic ballot return—a process which is vulnerable to hacking.
Mr. Chong stated that some SB21-188 testimony pointed to “security loopholes—even that part of the system which today permits voters with disabilities to receive and mark their ballots electronically.” LWVCO only gave testimony that the electronic return of a ballot is a concern. The current electronic ballot marking and returning a paper ballot is not a concern.
We leave it to election integrity experts to dispute other points that Mr. Chong made.
We also stated the LWVCO position in our op-ed: