Filed Date: Aug. 21, 2020
Closed Date: Sept. 1, 2020
Clearinghouse coding complete
This case involved voting accommodations for the 2020 Massachusetts primary election that was set to take place on September 1, 2020. On August 21, 2020, the Disability Law Center (DLC) (Massachusetts’s Protection and Advocacy agency) filed an emergency petition for relief on behalf of the Bay State Council of the Blind, the Boston Center for Independent Living, and six individual voters with disabilities against the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (“Secretary”) in his official capacity. According to the petitioners, the Secretary neither secured the necessary technology to provide voters access to an Accessible Vote by Mail (AVBM) ballot nor implemented mechanisms to enable voters with disabilities to request access to the accommodation. The petitioners argued that recently passed Massachusetts legislation, the Massachusetts Constitution, the Massachusetts Equal Rights Amendment, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) required access to AVBM to enable them to exercise their constitutional right to vote. The petitioners sought declaratory and injunctive relief, including an order mandating the Secretary to make an AVBM available to registered voters with print disabilities before the primary election. This case was filed in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, and Associate Justice David A. Lowy presided over this case.
On August 24, 2020, the Massachusetts Attorney General filed a letter with the court on behalf of the Secretary indicating that the parties were open to mediation. The court issued a judgment the following day. Upon agreement of the parties, the court ruled that voters with disabilities would be permitted to seek accommodations from the Secretary if they followed the procedure stipulated in the agreement for their vote to be counted. The court noted that the judgment applied only to requests for disability accommodations related to ballots for the 2020 primary election.
On August 27, 2020, the parties filed a joint motion to amend the judgment to allow voters submitting an application for a mail-in ballot to sign the ballot electronically if accompanied by a statement that the voter has a disability and does not have the ability to insert an electronic hand-drawn signature.
This case is now closed.
Saba Khan (1/5/2023)
State / Territory: Massachusetts
Filing Date: Aug. 21, 2020
Closing Date: Sept. 1, 2020
Case Ongoing: No
Bay State Council of the Blind, the Boston Center for Independent Living, and six individual Massachusetts voters with disabilities.
Non-profit NON-religious organization
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: No
Class Action Sought: No
Class Action Outcome: Not sought
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, State
Causes of Action:
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief
Prevailing Party: Plaintiff
Nature of Relief:
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief:
Form of Settlement:
Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Voting: Physical/Effective Access
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)