Blind Voters' Push for N.Y. Voter Site Fix Denied

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By Alexis Kramer

Oct. 7 — A federal district court Oct. 7 decided not to order the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to modify the change-of-address functionality on its voter registration site for blind voters before the state's registration deadline ( Eason v. New York State Board of Elections, S.D.N.Y., No. 1:16-cv-04292, 10/7/16 ).

Blind voters may not be able to independently update their addresses online, but they still may do so by telephone, mail or in-person visit, Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said in denying a request by the National Federation of the Blind.

The NFB alleged that the New York DMV's voter registration website isn't fully compatible with screen reader software and that blind and visually impaired voters can't update their voter information online without assistance. The NFB moved for an order requiring the DMV to fix its site by Oct. 10, in time for the Oct. 14 registration deadline (21 ECLR 40, 10/12/16).

The court said that blind voters have a right under the Americans With Disabilities Act to meaningful access to voting registration, but that “the record does not support a lack of meaningful access to ‘change-of-address' options generally.”

The court also declined to grant the NFB's bid on the grounds that the requested changes couldn't be accomplished by Oct. 10, as stated in declarations of the DMV's witnesses.

“It would be odd judicial practice indeed to order such extraordinary relief in the face of individuals with personal knowledge who say it cannot be done,” the court said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at akramer@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com

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