Northside Counts! 2020 Census

The state has completed a contract for the Democracy Live OmniBallot, an online, cloud-based portal that “… delivers ADA-compliant, electronic ballots to voters remotely, no matter where they are, or what device they are using.”

By Ashlee Green

Photo by cottonbro via Pexels

A vote-by-mail system that is accessible remotely will be available to blind and low-vision voters for this year’s general election.

Initiated by a lawsuit filed in May of this year, which alleged that Pennsylvania’s paper ballots denied voters who are blind and low-vision the ability to vote privately and independently without the assistance of a sighted third party, a last-minute “accessible write-in ballot” option was made available for the primary election. This alternative ballot functioned by using screen-reader software. Now, according to a press release, a long-term solution for the November election and future elections is being put in place.

According to the press release, the state has completed a contract for the Democracy Live OmniBallot. This online portal is a cloud-based document storage system, not an online voting system, and is hosted by Amazon’s AWS. The system, according to the Democracy Live website, always generates a paper ballot, and “… delivers ADA-compliant, electronic ballots to voters remotely, no matter where they are, or what device they are using.”

Voters using OmniBallot to complete their ballots electronically must still print them out and mail them to their county election office. Photo via Pexels

Using screen-reader technology, voters with disabilities can receive and complete their ballots electronically via OmniBallot. They must then print out their completed ballots and mail them to their county election office. Secrecy and outer envelopes will be provided.

Kelly Darr is the legal director for Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP) and served as co-counsel with Brown Goldstein & Levy, LLP who represented the lawsuit’s plaintiffs. (what lawsuit?) She believes this is a victory and said in the press release that the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and DRP are prepared to monitor the process of introducing and implementing this new tool in time for November’s election. 

Voters with disabilities can get more information on this voting option as it develops by visiting www.dos.pa.gov, www.votepa.com, or by contacting DRP via phone at 1-800-692-7443 or email at vote@disabilityrightspa.org.

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