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Justice Department Files Statements of Interest in Two Voting Access Lawsuits

June 20, 2024
Source: U.S. Justice Department

The Justice Department today announced that it has filed statements of interest in federal courts in Ohio and Alabama to promote the correct and uniform interpretation of voting laws guarding the rights of voters with disabilities. The statements of interest are part of the Justice Department’s continuing nationwide efforts to ensure that the voting rights of all individuals, including people with disabilities, are protected.

“No voter should be denied access to the ballot based on a disability,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, and the Justice Department will take action to safeguard that right for all eligible voters, including those with disabilities who need assistance casting absentee ballots.”

Private plaintiffs brought lawsuits in Ohio (League of Women Voters of Ohio v. LaRose) and Alabama (Alabama State Conference of the NAACP v. Marshall) challenging state laws that restrict how voters with disabilities may receive assistance, or from whom they may receive assistance, in casting an absentee ballot. The Justice Department’s statements of interest confirm that Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act permits voters with disabilities who require assistance to receive that assistance from any person they choose, so long as that person is not an agent of the voter’s employer or union. Allowable assistance includes all action necessary to make their vote effective, including casting an absentee ballot. The department’s statement of interest in Ohio also affirms that Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public entities provide equal opportunities to vote absentee and allows voters with disabilities to use an assistor of their choice as a reasonable modification.

“Every Ohio resident, disabled or not, has a fundamental right to vote. Ohio residents with disabilities should have the access and assistance they need to exercise that basic right of citizenship,” said U.S. Attorney Rebecca C. Lutzko for the Northern District of Ohio. “The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that individuals with disabilities are provided reasonable modifications to undertake their ability to vote. Our office will continue its work to secure the ADA’s protections for Ohio’s residents.”

“Every citizen has the right to vote without discrimination and to have that vote counted in a fair and free election,” said U.S. Attorney Prim Escalona for the Northern District of Alabama. “It is important that those who have specific information about voter discrimination make that information available to my office, the FBI or the Civil Rights Division. The Justice Department will always work tirelessly to protect the integrity of the election process.”

More information about voting and elections is available on the Justice Department’s website at www.justice.gov/voting. More information about the ADA and the Justice Department’s enforcement of the rights of people with disabilities is available at www.ada.gov. To learn more about the Civil Rights Division visit www.justice.gov/crt and to report possible violations of federal voting rights laws go to www.civilrights.justice.gov or call toll-free at 800-253-3931.

News source: justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-files-statements-interest-two-voting-access-lawsuits

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