FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 8, 2020
Edie Surtees, Disability Rights Texas
Fall Election Amid Pandemic Leaves Some Voters in the Dark
DOJ Complaint Alleges Texas Counties Fail to Provide Accessible Voting Websites
AUSTIN— On September 4, Disability Rights Texas (DRTx) filed a systemic class complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) claiming that more than 80 county voting websites in Texas are failing to comply with federal laws because they do not offer equal access to people with disabilities.
County voting websites contain critical information for voters, including polling locations and hours. In light of COVID-19 and changing voter information, it is now especially important that all voters have equal access to voting information on county voting websites.
In July, DRTx released an investigative report, “Web Failures: How County Voting Websites Leave Voters with Disabilities in the Dark.” The report shows that many Texas county voting websites are out of compliance with federal laws because they lack both critical voting information and accessible features which result in people with disabilities failing to receive the same voting information that people without disabilities receive. The report came after a year-long investigation that included an assessment of every county voting website in Texas.
Following the report release, DRTx notified each county of the individual deficiencies of its voting websites and requested the county let DRTx know of its plan to address the website accessibility issues, including what steps the county anticipates taking to ensure compliance for the county’s voting website and when the county anticipates completing the steps. DRTx has committed to provide assistance and resources to counties to make these important improvements. However, many counties failed to respond to the demand.
As a result, DRTx made the determination that additional steps were warranted. This resulted in filing a systemic complaint with the DOJ requesting that the agency investigate these cases of disability discrimination and direct the counties to comply with the law by making needed changes to their voting websites.
“Texas is facing unprecedented challenges during the 2020 election cycle,” said Molly Broadway, Voting Rights Training Specialist for DRTx. “The pandemic has increased our use of and dependence on digital information. Now more than ever, providing equal access to the voting process for people with disabilities through county websites must become a priority.”
A full copy of the complaint is attached below.
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Disability Rights Texas (previously named Advocacy Inc.) is the federally designated legal protection and advocacy agency (P&A) for people with disabilities in Texas. Its mission is to help people with disabilities understand and exercise their rights under the law, ensuring their full and equal participation in society. Visit www.DRTx.org for more information.