The City of Boston and the Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL), Bay State Council of the Blind (BSCB), and five Boston voters, represented by the Disability Law Center (DLC), entered into a Settlement Agreement on September 8, 2021 to establish an Accessible Remote Voting System that allows City of Boston voters with disabilities to participate in the absentee voting and vote by mail programs privately and independently.
Per the Agreement, the Accessible Remote Voting System must be available “for the 2021 Boston preliminary and regular municipal elections and for every election through December 31, 2025” as an accommodation for Boston voters who have disabilities, such as blindness, low vision, and mobility/dexterity disabilities, that make it difficult or impossible to effectively access standard print materials (“print disabilities”). Key components of this System provide, in lieu of a standard print paper ballot, an accessible electronic ballot that can be marked and officially cast electronically through a web-based platform or other accessible mechanism compliant with current World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1, Level AA). The complete agreement appears below.
The online Accessible Remote Voting System is now live and available as an accommodation for Boston voters with print disabilities. To request access to the System, voters with print disabilities should submit the following two items in writing to the Boston Elections Department (email: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone: 617-635-8683; website: https://www.boston.gov/departments/election):
- An application to vote by mail or to vote absentee. If accessible to them, voters may complete and email the forms currently available – 2021 Vote by Mail Application (https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/ elepdf/2021-Vote-by-Mail-Application.pdf); Absentee Ballot Application (https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepdf/absentee/English-Absentee-Ballot-Application.pdf. Voters who cannot access the forms currently available should apply via email stating: (a) that they want access to a Vote by Mail Ballot or an Absentee Voting Ballot and are submitting their application via email because the current form is not accessible due to their disability; and (b) their full name, voter registration address, date of birth, telephone number, email address, and ballot mailing address.
- A written request for accommodation. The voter’s request for accommodation should explain that they need access to the Accessible Remote Voting System in order to vote privately and independently because they are unable to effectively access a standard print ballot due a disability. This written request can be sent via email.
Example of a Request for Accommodation: I am a registered Boston voter who is blind and cannot effectively access a standard print ballot. To vote privately and independently by mail, I request access to the Accessible Remote Voting System.
If you have any problems with the process of requesting access to the Accessible Remote Voting System, please contact DLC via email at email@example.com or by calling 617-723-8455.