Resource: Frye v. Gardner

By: Healthy Elections Project

September 1, 2020

Healthy Elections Project

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, New Hampshire has extended its absentee voting system to all voters. However, the system relies on printed forms and ballots, which print-disabled voters (such as blind adults or those who have muscle-weakness related disabilities) cannot read or mark independently. The current voting system is inaccessible to print-disabled voters who wish to vote independently and who feel unsafe voting in-person with the current pandemic. Plaintiffs, consisting of print-disabled individuals, sued the Secretary of State and the State. They claim: (1) the absentee voting program discriminates against print-disabled voters, who are protected under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), because these individuals cannot register to vote absentee, apply for an absentee ballot, or vote via absentee ballot secretly and independently, as other votes can; and (2) the inaccessible absentee voting program violates Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prevents discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance, and Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm in that they will be discriminated against and denied equal access to the fundamental right to vote. Plaintiffs seek a preliminary and permanent injunction to (1) declare that the defendants violated the ADA and Section 504, and prohibit these violations; (2) require the defendants to temporarily remedy their absentee voting program by allowing voters to register through an entirely online process; (3) ensure all election-related guidance on the defendants' website is accessible; and (4) implement a remote vote-by-mail system accessible to Plaintiffs for the September 8, 2020 primary election.