ACLU of Maryland and Maryland Disability Law Center Hail Governor for Signing New Accessible “Paper Trail” Bill

Affiliate: ACLU of Maryland
May 17, 2007 12:00 am

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland and the Maryland Disability Law Center (MDLC) joined today to celebrate a shared victory for all Maryland voters in the enactment of an election law requiring Maryland’s voting system to produce voter verified paper records. The law, HB 18/SB 392, also contains model standards for voters with disabilities.

The ACLU of Maryland and MDLC worked together during the 2007 session of the General Assembly, along with a coalition of disability rights advocates and other voting rights advocates, to ensure that all Maryland voters have the secure voting system they have demanded without disenfranchising voters with disabilities.

“The ACLU believes that election integrity is achieved only when all Maryland voters can cast a secret and secure ballot,” said Cindy Boersma, Legislative Director for the ACLU of Maryland. “The governor’s signature today is a victory for the franchise here in the Free State. Marylanders deserve nothing less than a truly voter-verified and fully accessible election system.”

Alyssa Fieo, Managing Attorney with MDLC, said, “The enactment of this legislation shows that it is both possible and essential to build common ground between the disability rights community and the growing number of citizens who are concerned that many of the proposed new technologies are subject to tampering and error. We must debunk the myth that we have to choose between accessible voting and verifiable voting. Democracy requires that we have both.”

In consultation with national experts, MDLC and the ACLU worked together on drafting and advocating for provisions in the legislation to provide strong protections for voters with disabilities. Many other disability organizations joined in the effort and testified in Annapolis to support the language, including Kimball Gray from Maryland Statewide Independent Living Council, Jamey George from The Freedom Center and Michael Benelli from Making Choices for Independent Living. Other disability organizations also endorsed the provisions that were ultimately incorporated into the bill Governor Martin O’Malley signed today.

Boersma and Fieo both reiterated their commitment to continue working closely together to ensure that the legislation is properly implemented as it relates to protecting the rights of voters with disabilities.

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