Blind Alabamians and Others Oppose Absentee Voting Bill
National Federation of the Blind urges Legislature not to Pass
Montgomery, Alabama (April 12, 2021): The National Federation of the Blind of Alabama, the state affiliate of America’s transformative civil rights organization of the blind, today announced its strong opposition to H.B. 145/S.B. 238, which purport to authorize access to an electronic ballot-marking system for blind absentee voters. The bill would condition eligibility to use the system on blind voters being registered with the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (AIDB), creating a burden for blind voters who have never received services or been affiliated with that entity.
“The National Federation of the Blind rejects the idea that the civil and constitutional rights of blind Alabamians are conditioned on affiliation with service providers such as the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind,” said Barbara Manuel, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Alabama. “While we appreciate this effort to meet our needs, this bill is so restrictive that it will be better for it not to pass at all than for it to become law. We therefore urge the Legislature to abandon this ill-conceived proposal, and further urge that relevant legislators and state officials instead consult with the blind to design a solution that respects our privacy, equality, and independence.”
The league of Women Voters of Alabama joins the National Federation of the Blind of Alabama, along with the Alabama affiliate of the American Council of the Blind and the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, in opposing the proposed legislation.
“This bill not only places new requirements on the blind and visually impaired, and would invade their privacy, but also cannot be implemented without new costs to be borne by some entity, since the paperwork and documentation by the A.I.D.B. must be funded by the State of Alabama or by fees imposed,” said Barbara Caddell, president of the League of Women Voters of Alabama, in a letter to legislators.