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Maine Secretary of State launches accessible absentee ballot option

Ballot Box Sign for Election - All Mail-In Voting With Wheelchair Handicap Accessible Parking
Photo: Dreamstime

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is announcing a new digital service that will provide an accessible absentee ballot option for voters with disabilities. The solution was created in partnership with the digital government firm NIC Maine.

The Accessible Absentee Ballot option became available Friday, Oct. 2, as one of the options on the online absentee ballot request page for the Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 General Election.

The Department of the Secretary of State developed this new service in coordination with Maine’s digital solutions partner, NIC Maine, with guidance from advocates at Disability Rights Maine. It is intended for voters with print disabilities, which may include vision disability or blindness, physical dexterity limitations, learning disabilities or cognitive impairment, all of which prevent the individual from independently marking a paper ballot.

“We have been encouraging people to consider absentee voting if they are concerned about going to a polling place during this pandemic,” said Secretary Dunlap, “and for voters with disabilities who wanted to vote absentee, only the mailed paper ballot was available – until now. This new service represents a significant milestone in our administration of elections in Maine, making independent absentee voting available to all Maine citizens.”

In addition to the accessible absentee ballot, the State provides the Accessible Voting System ballot-marking device at every polling place on election day, which allows any voter to use a touchscreen or controller pad/audio to mark their ballot independently.

“We are pleased that the Secretary of State’s Office has taken steps to ensure that people with print disabilities will be able to vote privately, independently, and safely from their home for the November 3 general election,” said Kristin Aiello, lead counsel for Disability Rights Maine.

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