§ 17-19-8.1 Ballots for voters who are blind, visually impaired or disabled. (a) Any voter who is blind or visually impaired or disabled is eligible to request a special ballot for voting by mail ballot. Special mail ballots are available in Braille or tactile format.
(b) Requests must be made in writing to the local board of canvassers where the person is registered to vote at least forty-five (45) days before the election for which the voter is requesting the special ballot. In addition, the request will be valid for all elections held during the calendar year in which the request was received and in which the voter is eligible to participate. Applicants must also file the appropriate mail ballot application as required by chapter 20 of this title for each election in which they wish to participate.
(c) The office of the secretary of state shall prepare and provide the appropriate form, which shall be available at local boards and upon request from the office of the secretary of state. The voter may also choose to submit his or her request in writing without using the form provided, as long as the communication contains all of the required information. The request shall include the following information:
(1) The name and registered address of the voter;
(2) A daytime telephone number;
(3) An indication of whether this request is for the entire calendar year or only for the next upcoming election;
(4) The voter's political party affiliation, if the request for a special ballot is also for primaries;
(5) Indicate the special ballot format.
(d) All requests received by local boards must be processed and forwarded to the office of the secretary of state within twenty-four (24) hours of receipt. The secretary of state shall maintain a list of all persons requesting special Braille or tactile mail ballots and must forward a copy of the list to the state board of elections at least eighteen (18) days before the date of any election.
(e) The state board may adopt rules and regulations for the procedure for the manual reproduction of voted ballots, when necessary, and the tabulation of Braille and tactile mail ballots.
(f) The office of the secretary of state shall be responsible for the preparation and distribution of special Braille and tactile mail ballots. Whenever possible, the secretary of state shall prepare the Braille or tactile mail ballot so that the voted ballot can be read by the tabulation equipment, rather than being manually reproduced by election officials onto a machine readable ballot.
(g) The office of the secretary of state may adopt rules and regulations setting forth the procedure for the preparations and distribution of the Braille and tactile mail ballots.
(h) The office of the secretary of state shall prepare and publish a guide describing the types of ballots available and the manner in which each ballot can be voted. This guide shall be revised whenever the types of ballots available are updated. This guide shall be available in print, Braille, audio, or other accessible formats.
(i) The office of the secretary of state shall establish a special Braille and tactile ballot program for voters who are blind or visually impaired. The office of the secretary of state shall expand the special ballot service to other voters with disabilities, as feasible, as determined by the secretary of state, and incorporate other accessible formats as technology and resources allow.
(j) In accordance with the Help America Vote Act of 2003, the
voting system at each polling place shall be accessible for individuals with
disabilities, including nonvisual accessibility for the blind and visually
impaired, in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and
participation as for other voters.
(P.L. 2000, ch. 99, § 1; P.L. 2000, ch. 144, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 87, § 3; P.L. 2006, ch. 96, § 3.)