Judge Rejects NFB Claims Over Accessible Touch-Screen Voting
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 22, 2005
ORLANDO, FLORIDA--The National Federation of the Blind filed an appeal Friday, one day after a federal judge ruled that Volusia County does not have to provide accessible voting machines before upcoming municipal elections in October.
U.S. District Judge John Antoon II issued a six-page ruling Thursday in which he said that previous court cases and existing federal law do not require the county to provide equipment that allows people with vision-related disabilities to vote independently.
NFB filed the suit earlier this month, claiming that the Volusia County Council violated Florida law, along with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, by not purchasing some accessible touch-screen voting systems. Those systems allow voters that cannot read to listen to instructions on private headsets so they can cast a secret ballot.
"We think the ruling is completely wrong, and we're extremely disappointed," James Gashel, a spokesman for NFB, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "We're not disappointed enough to drop the matter."
So far, only touch-screen machines have been certified by the state as accessible, but some activists and County Council members oppose the machines because they don't use paper ballots.
NFB appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, requesting that the county be ordered to immediately purchase touch screen voting systems.
Volusia County responded that there is no need for an emergency order.
Volusia County's polling system was in the spotlight following the November 2000 presidential election, as election workers were seen closely examining punch card ballots for "hanging", "dimpled" and "pregnant" chads.
"Judge denies blind voters' request for touchscreen machines" (Sun-Sentinel)
"Activists file appeal for touch-screens" (News-Journal)
"EFF Supports Disabled Voters in Fight Against Paperless E-voting" (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
U. S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration Hearing on Voter Verification in the Federal Elections Process (NC)