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Absentee ballot ‘inaccessible’ to voters with disabilities: Rights Groups

Close-up of accessibility sign

The Disability Rights North Carolina is raising the question around accessibility of absentee ballots in North Carolina, arguing that some people living with disabilities can’t fill out an absentee ballot without assistance.

Disability-rights experts say that people in North Carolina are also worried about the health risks of heading to the polls in a pandemic.

Virginia Knowlton Marcus, chief executive of Disability Rights North Carolina, said the state Board of Elections has not provided alternatives to accommodate individuals with disabilities, who are unable to independently and privately read and mark a paper ballot from their home.

“The absentee ballots in North Carolina are inaccessible to many people with disabilities,” she was quoted as saying in a news report.

According to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, North Carolina law allows any voter to receive assistance going in or out of a voting booth, as well as preparing a ballot if the person providing help is a near relative or legal guardian of the voter.

A near relative is a spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, child, grandchild, mother- or father-in-law, son- or daughter-in-law, stepparent, or stepchild.

Some voters may receive help from other assistants. If a voter meets any condition below, he or she is eligible to get help from a person of their choice, except the voter’s employer or union representative, or an agent thereof.

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