State Accused Of Interfering With Blind Voters
Two Michigan members of the National Federation of the Blind believe Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson should be held in contempt of court. They also want the same action taken against Michigan Director of Elections Jonathan Brater. Adding insult to injury, the court plaintiffs also demand the same action against the state attorneys involved. It all goes back to a lawsuit filed by Blind residents Michael Power and Fred Wurtzel against the state. They are the current and former presidents of the Michigan chapter of the National Federation of the Blind.
The crux of the lawsuit was a demand that the state develop what’s called a remote accessible vote-by-mail system for blind voters to be able to cast absentee ballots. The state agreed and entered into a court-enforced consent agreement in the middle of May. The two blind activists however say the Secretary of State and the Elections division did nothing. Attorneys for the plaintiffs say it’s a sham and they want a federal judge to impose penalties against Benson and Brater. They also want a special overseer appointed to make sure the new absentee voting process for blind residents is established as agreed.
The state claims the COVID-19 virus outbreak interfered with their efforts. When the consent agreement was reached, the state was ordered to pay for the blind activists' attorney fees and publish a statement outlining what was going to be done for all Michigan residents to be aware. The plaintiff's attorneys say that never happened. The case is being handled by federal Judge Gershwin Drain in the state’s Eastern District.