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The National Federation of the Blind, its Maryland affiliate and three blind registered Maryland voters – Marie Cobb, Ruth Sager and Joel Zimba – filed a lawsuit against the Maryland State Board of Elections in U. At issue are the state’s policies for using Express Vote ballot-marking devices – which can allow voters who are blind or have motor disabilities to use headphones, magnification, touchscreens and other features to independently cast ballots. The lawsuit alleges the elections board is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws by maintaining a segregated system of voting that denies blind voters their right to a secret ballot and an equal voting experience.In February, Jonathan Lazar, a University of Maryland professor who specializes in disability and technology research, told lawmakers that 19 other states and the District of Columbia used the Express Vote system in 2018, without significant issues.Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said the lawsuit was necessary to force the board to stop “tinkering with its separate and unequal solution and instead implement a policy that protects the rights of all voters and the secrecy of our ballots.”“When we could not get the board to listen, we appealed to the state legislature, but the board fought us there too. We are taking the board to court to protect the right of all Maryland voters, including the blind, to cast our ballots privately and independently,” she said in a statement.Only one ballot was cast using a device at 22 precincts and 66 precincts failed to require any voter to use the device, according to the lawsuit.
From the Starting Line it was obvious that they had no attraction towards each other, but this did not seem to hinder them at first, as they won the first two legs.Groups such as the National Federation of the Blind argue that the state could now use Express Vote ballot-marking devices to record all votes, resolving the segregated ballot issue, but the state board of elections has said acquiring additional machines is cost-prohibitive.Instead, the board has voted in recent weeks to change election judge training and set a higher goal of five Express Vote ballots per precinct in an attempt to anonymize the ballots cast using the devices. Clarence Lam (D-Howard) failed to pass the General Assembly last session, though the House version of the bill was referred to summer study.In the most recent election, use of the ballot-marking devices was low or non-existent in precincts across the state.Statewide, fewer than 1 percent of voters used a ballot-marking device.
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