By Professor Michael Waterstone
Thanks to Dan and Rick for inviting me to post on the recent opinion in AAPD v. Harris. As Dan notes, the wheels of justice have moved slowly on this case. The original district court opinion (from 2004) is in an earlier edition of my disability law casebook. It held that voting machines requiring voters with visual impairments to vote with third-party assistance violated Title II of the ADA. The Eleventh Circuit previously reversed the district court, holding that plaintiffs did not have a private right of action to enforce the ADA. This decision holds that voting machines are not a facility and therefore are not covered by one of the regulations implementing Title II of the ADA.
Plaintiffs made three specific claims under the ADA. This first is premised on the actual language of the statute. Title II of the ADA (the operative title here) provides that "no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity." Plaintiffs' argument is that inaccessible machines prevent them from participating in voting (a public program) in the same manner as citizens without disabilities.
Read the complete post on the Election Law Blog.