Special to the Patriot-Bridge
The City of Boston Election Department on October 15 announced steps to increase accessibility of voting ahead of the November 2 general election. Additionally, City of Boston ballot drop boxes are now available, and early voting will run Saturday, October 23 – Friday, October 29 at various locations throughout Boston.
Accessible Electronic Voting System
The City of Boston has implemented an Accessible Electronic Voting System, which will provide voters with accessible electronic vote by mail ballots for the upcoming general election on November 2, 2021. Boston voters with print or visual disabilities may now request, receive, and return an accessible electronic ballot. The Accessible Electronic Remote Voting System is compatible with screen readers, allowing voters who are blind or low vision to participate in the vote-by-mail and absentee voting programs privately and independently.
The Accessible Electronic Remote Voting System was established by an agreement between the City of Boston, the Boston Center for Independent Living, Bay State Council of the Blind, and the Disability Law Center. The terms of this agreement require the City of Boston to establish and implement an accessible vote-by-mail ballot system for qualified voters with disabilities for the November 2, 2021 general election and every election through December 31, 2025.
The City’s Accessible Electronic Voting System includes, but is not limited to, the following:
• Accessible forms that enable Boston voters with visual and print disabilities to apply to participate in the Electronic Remote voting system
• An accessible vote-by-mail ballot request form that allows Boston voters to self-certify that they have a disability which prevents them from completing a paper ballot privately and independently
• An accessible ballot
• An accessible means of ballot certification that is electronically fillable and submissible and permits use of a typed name or other proof of identity or credentials as a substitute for a hand-written signature
• A web based platform or other accessible mechanism that allows qualified voters to electronically cast their vote
“The creation of this electronic vote by mail system shows the City’s commitment to accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities,” said Boston’s Disability Commissioner Kristen McCosh. “It is compatible with screen read aers and other text-to-speech software, allowing voters to easily navigate the application and independently complete the form fields.”
To obtain an accessible ballot, qualified voters must:
1. Apply through our online portal by clicking here or;
2. Complete and email the forms currently available –
3. 2021 Vote-by-Mail Application (https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepdf/2021-Vote-by-Mail-Application.pdf)
4. Absentee Ballot Application (https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepdf/absentee/English-Absentee-Ballot-Application.pdf; and
5. Send a written request for an accommodation. The voter’s request for an accommodation should explain that they need access to the Accessible Remote Voting System in order to vote privately and independently because they are unable to effectively access a standard print ballot due to a disability. This written request can be sent via email.
Once the voter’s application for an accessible electronic ballot is approved, the voter will receive a secure login and credentials to access the electronic ballot. Voters will be able to mark their votes independently and privately, and then submit the ballot via a secure delivery system using the secure login credential provided through the Accessible Remote Voting System. To assist with navigating the new system or to troubleshoot any issues voters may have when casting their accessible electronic ballot, voters may contact [email protected].
Qualified voters with disabilities may request an accessible ballot using the online request forms. If they requested a mailed ballot but have not returned it, a voter can request a new accessible ballot online.
Voters may request the accessible vote-by-mail ballot through using this link or by emailing [email protected]. The deadline to request a vote by mail ballot is 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, October 27, 2021.
Ballot Drop Boxes
Voters who requested vote-by-mail ballots or absentee ballots must have their signed ballot returned to the Boston Election Department by 8:00 p.m. on November 2. Voters can track the status of their vote-by-mail ballots here. Vote-by-mail ballots can also be returned to the Election Department by dropping it off at any of the 20 drop boxes located around the City of Boston. All drop box locations can be found here.
Voters registered in Boston can vote early in person at any of the early voting sites from Saturday, October 23 through Friday, October 29, 2021. Early voting hours and locations can be found here.