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Hoosiers who are blind score legal victory over absentee voting rules

Hoosiers who are blind can use the assistance of someone they choose to mark their ballot when voting in person – as long as that person isn’t their boss or a member of their union. But those who are blind who want to vote absentee by mail – meaning, at home – don’t get that option under Indiana law. (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

Hoosiers who are blind will have more freedom in how they vote in May’s primary election after a federal court’s ruling in a lawsuit against Indiana’s absentee voting rules.

Hoosiers who are blind can use the assistance of someone they choose to mark their ballot when voting in person – as long as that person isn’t their boss or a member of their union. But those who are blind who want to vote absentee by mail – meaning, at home – don’t get that option under Indiana law. Instead, the state forces them to use “traveling boards,” officials sent by the county.

A group of Hoosiers who are blind sued over that. And a federal judge sided with them. For the May primary, the state must allow voters who are blind to choose who can help them cast their mail-in ballot.

The lawsuit had also asked the court to order the state to implement an online absentee ballot system for those with vision disabilities. But the judge said that it was too close to the election for her to order the state to make such a change now, while not ruling out that it could happen in the future.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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