Blind lawyer says lack of accessible, private voting options violates Charter

·1 min read

OTTAWA — David Lepofsky was not able to mark his choice independently on the mail-in ballot Elections Canada sent to him because he is blind.

He opted to not vote in person with his wife because she has a serious immune limitation and they don't want to risk being infected with COVID-19.

Lepofsky, who is a lawyer advocating for accessibility for disabled people, says the voting options available for blind people don't allow them to cast their ballots privately.

He says the lack of accessible voting options is a violation of section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which requires equal protection and benefit of the law to those living with mental or physical disabilities.

Elections Canada responded to his complaint on Twitter yesterday saying the agency recognizes "the special ballot process is not ideal for an elector who is unable to mark their ballot independently."

Lepofsky says describing the situation as being "not ideal" is an "offensive understatement" because the mail-in ballots are not accessible.

He says the other option of voting in-person at a polling station also would not allow him to vote in private because an Elections Canada officer would have to read and verify his voting choice.

Elections Canada didn't respond immediately to a request for comment.

According to Statistics Canada, about three per cent of Canadians aged 15 years and older, or about 750,000 people, have a seeing disability that limits their daily activities and 5.8 per cent of this group are legally blind.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 13, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press

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