August 26 2021 Access Ready Speaks Out at Maryland Election Officials Conference

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Colleagues, 

It is an honor to address such an influential body of election thought leaders. Our message is a simple one, registration, validation, and voting must be a continuum of private and independent accessibility. Yes, under the law this does mean all election technology including pollbooks. We are here representing our community partners: The Image Center for People with Disabilities, The National Association of the Deaf, The National Council on Independent Living, and The National Federation of the Blind, to ask for your help. We are concerned that the state is about to choose an inaccessible pollbook system even though their RFP calls for submissions to meet accessibility requirements. We are concerned because we know they are not even going to consider the only accessible pollbook system available at this time. We know this because there is only one pollbook provider who has asked any of us for guidance and testing during development. Because a vender tells you they are accessible does not make it so. We are asking you to consult with the State Board of Elections to avoid unfortunate consequences. We want to keep this cordial, but colleagues must be honest with each other. The Access Ready Community Partners will simply not allow an inaccessible system to be chosen without a response aimed at stopping it. The sheet of braille that we passed out is the first two amendments to the Constitution of the United States. I ask you to imagine for a moment that they do not apply to you simply because you cannot read them. Perhaps for a moment you will understand how we feel each time accessibility is debated or ignored. Please help us and the state avoid a choice that discriminates against voters with disabilities. As a person who is blind, I cannot see to come to each of you to discuss this most important issue, but I invite you to meet me this week so I may answer your questions. Thank you for your time. 

 

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