For Immediate Release
Contact: Tatum A. Pritchard, Director of Litigation
On August 21, 2020, DLC filed an Emergency Petition with the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts on behalf of six individual petitioners, Bay State Council of the Blind (BSCB), and the Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL) concerning the unavailability of accessible electronic vote by mail for the fast-approaching September 1, 2020 primary. Per “An Act relative to voting options in response to COVID-19,” enacted on July 6, 2020, registered Massachusetts voters with disabilities are entitled to receive access to an accessible electronic vote by mail ballot as an accommodation from the Secretary of the Commonwealth (“Secretary”). This accommodation is intended to allow voters with disabilities the opportunity to electronically mark their ballot privately and independently using their own assistive technology, print their marked ballot, and mail or hand-deliver it to their local election official to be counted. By the date of filing, the Secretary had not provided the public with any information concerning the availability of accessible electronic vote by mail or the process for requesting that accommodation from the Secretary.
Today, the Court entered a Judgement in the case concerning accessible electronic vote by mail concerning the special processes that will be made available to the voters with disabilities who seek access to an electronic ballot for the September 1, 2020 primaries, and retaining jurisdiction to resolve any further disputes. Please be aware, a part of this Judgement, the deadline for requesting access to an electronic ballot for the primary election has been extended from August 26, 2020 to August 28, 2020 at 12:00 PM. The processes for requesting an accessible electronic ballot and for casting your electronic ballot for the fast-approaching primaries are described below.
DLC thanks our individual petitioners, BSCB, and BCIL for their amazing assistance and support in getting this resolution, especially given the incredibly short amount of time left to secure any meaningful relief. However, DLC believes that much more progress needs to be made in ensuring that Massachusetts voters with disabilities have equal access to all voting programs for the upcoming November general election.
DLC invites every voter who requires the accommodation of accessible electronic vote by mail in order to vote privately and independently who is not able to get access to an electronic ballot for the primaries to report the specific barriers that you experienced – whether due to the request for accommodation process, the technology available to you, or other reasons.
How to Request an Accessible Electronic Ballot
In order to get access to the Accessible Vote by Mail System, a voter must first submit a request for accommodation to Accessible Vote by Mail Coordinator electronically to Kelly.Emmons@sec.state.ma.us by August 28, 2020 at 12:00 PM. A voter may also reach the Coordinator by phone at 617-727-2828.
As part of the request for accommodation for the September 1, 2020 primary election, the voter must first provide the Coordinator the following information:
- A statement confirming that the voter is registered to vote and requesting use of accessible vote by mail because of a disability;
- Full name (first, middle, last);
- Voter registration address (street address, city/town, zip code);
- Mailing address, if different than voter registration address;
- Date of birth;
- Email address; and
- Phone number.
Second, the voter must email the Coordinator an electronic 2020 Vote by Mail Application available HERE with all of the fields completed, including the date and signature (electronic signature is acceptable). If, because of your disability, you are unable to manually sign or add an electronic signature to the Application form, DLC urges you to also state in your request for accommodation email that you also require an accommodation from the Secretary permitting you to type your name in the signature line of the Application form.
How to Complete the Electronic Ballot and Cast Your Vote
Once the request and Application are received and processed, the Accessible Vote by Mail Coordinator will contact the voter to provide further instructions. The voter’s email address and phone number are requested to ensure that the Accessible Vote by Mail Coordinator can provide the voter with information necessary to access the System.
A voter approved for an Electronic Vote by Mail Ballot will receive a PIN from the Coordinator that will provide entry into the System to complete the Electronic Vote by Mail Ballot. The voter will also receive by email from the Coordinator an accessible electronic affidavit of compliance that must accompany the electronic ballot in order to be officially cast. In addition, the Coordinator will provide the voter will contact information for the voter’s local election office address.
A voter approved for an Electronic Vote by Mail Ballot will also be mailed by first-class mail an inner envelope where electronic ballot is placed after voting that has on it an affidavit of compliance to be filled out by the voter (signature line indicated by hole punch) that is similar in substance to the electronic affidavit of compliance, and an outer envelope that is pre-addressed to the local election official with postage guaranteed. BECAUSE THE PRE-ADDRESSED, POSTAGE PAID ENVELOPE FROM THE LOCAL ELECTION OFFICE MAY NOT ARRIVE IN TIME FOR YOUR BALLOT TO BE COUNTED BY THE SEPTEMBER 1, 2020 PRIMARY, voters may alternatively mail their completed and printed Electronic Vote by Mail Ballot and electronic affidavit of compliance in the voter’s own envelope with necessary postage.
The envelope containing a completed Electronic Vote by Mail Ballot and signed affidavit of compliance must either be mailed to your local election office or hand-delivered to your local election office, an official ballot return box, or to an early voting location during early voting hours.
YOUR LOCAL ELECTION OFFICE MUST RECEIVE THE ENVELOPE WITH YOUR ELECTRONIC VOTE BY MAIL BALLOT AND THE AFFIDAVIT BY 8:00 PM ON SEPTEMBER 1, 2020.