Due to water damage, our building is closed for repairs. We are continuing all our operations remotely and from a temporary office space until further notice.

Action Alert: May 17, 2023

 

May 17, 2023 | by Amber Smock

URGENT! Fight for Accessible Voting in Illinois Today!

ACTION ALERT from the National Federation of the Blind-Illinois: Act Now to Ensure Accessibility of Vote by Mail – Ask Legislators to Support SB 282 SCA 1

Time is running short to ensure that accessible electronic vote by mail is available to Illinoisans with print disabilities statewide and WE NEED PHONE CALLS.  Emails can also be done at this link, but PHONE CALLS are needed!

Background information on this issue and the proposed bill can be found at the end of this alert, but a brief overview and a sample script and legislator contact information is directly below.

Act now by calling the leaders of the Illinois General Assembly and urge them to include SB 282, SCA 1 in the Omnibus Election Law Bill.


Overview of SB 282 SCA 1

The Illinois General Assembly is working on a large election law bill (called an “omnibus” bill) that will include provisions regarding various elections issues. To give voters with print disabilities an opportunity to vote that is truly equal to voters without disabilities, and eliminate the voting problems faced by military families and citizens living overseas, it is critical that the language of SB 282, SCA 1 is included in the omnibus election law bill.

Make Calls Now: Sample Phone Script

“Hello, my name is ___ and I’m calling to ask that [name of legislator] support SB 282 SCA 1 to be included in the elections omnibus bill. This would ensure that voters with print disabilities, military families, and Illinois voters overseas can receive and send back their ballots electronically. Will you ask them to do this?”

Who to Call: THE FIVE LEGISLATORS BELOW ARE WHO NEED TO HEAR FROM US MOST!

Illinois House of Representatives

  • Representative Chris Welch (Speaker of the House) – (217) 782-5350
  • Representative Robyn Gabel (Majority Leader) – (217) 782-8052
  • Representative Kelly Burke (Assistant Majority Leader) (217) 782-0515

Illinois Senate

  • Senator Don Harmon (President of the Senate) – (217) 782-8176
  • Senator Kimberly Lightford (Majority Leader) – (217) 782-8505

Call Individual Representatives

Below are members of the Illinois House and Senate we need to support the bill. Are any of them your personal representative or state senator? Please call them too! Be sure to tell them that you are one of their constituents.

Not sure who your representatives are? Look them up here.

Members of the Illinois House of Representatives

  • Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth—217-782-3186
  • Rep. Mary Flowers—217-782-4207
  • Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez—217-782-8173
  • Rep. Jay Hoffman—217-782-0104
  • Rep. Natalie Manley—217-782-3316
  • Rep. Kam Buckner—217-782-2023
  • Rep. Aaron Ortiz—217-782-1117
  • Rep, Barbara Hernandez—217-558-1002
  • Rep. Marcus Evans—217-782-8272
  • Rep. Robert Rita—217-558-1000

Members of the Illinois Senate

  • Sen. Bill Cunningham—217-782-5145
  • Sen. Mattie Hunter—217-782-5966
  • Sen. Linda Holmes—217-782-0422
  • Sen. Laura Murphy—217-782-3875
  • Sen. David Koehler—217-782-8250
  • Sen. Napoleon Harris—217-782-8066
  • Sen. Cristina Castro—217-782-7746
  • Sen. Elgie Sims—217-782-3201

Background Information on SB 282 SCA 1

Currently, Illinois voters with print disabilities (which includes people who are blind, low vision, have physical dexterity limitations or cognitive or learning disabilities) can receive, mark, and verify their vote by mail ballots electronically, using their own assistive technology. However, they are required to print, sign, and return a paper ballot to their local election authority. This requirement forces them to rely on assistance from a person without disabilities to complete and submit their ballots which, contrary to Title II of the ADA, deprives them of the right to vote privately and independently.

Military families and citizens living overseas also have the ability to receive vote by mail ballots electronically, but they are required to return them by mail. This has been very problematic for military families serving abroad or relocating to new duty stations in the U.S., resulting in much lower voter participation rates.

To close this accessibility gap, voters with print disabilities must be able to return their vote by mail ballots electronically without relying on help from anyone else and military families and citizens living overseas must have that right as well.  

SB 282, SCA 1 would allow voters with print disabilities as well as military service members, their families and citizens living overseas to return their vote by mail ballots electronically, beginning with the 2024 Primary Election.

The Illinois General Assembly is working on a large election law bill (called an “omnibus” bill) that will include provisions regarding various elections issues. To give voters with print disabilities an opportunity to vote that is truly equal to voters without disabilities, and eliminate the voting problems faced by military families and citizens living overseas, it is critical that the language of SB 282, SCA 1 is included in the omnibus election law bill.