Toronto Star

Blind lawyer decries lack of accessible, private voting options

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

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, said the voting options available for blind people don’t allow them to cast their ballots privately.

He said 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.

“This is just awful,” he said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“The basic right we’re all supposed to enjoy is the right to mark our own ballot in private and to mark it independen­tly, or ourselves, and to be able to verify this mark the way we want. And I currently don’t have that as a blind person at the federal level.”

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

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

He said the other option of voting inperson 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.

An Elections Canada spokespers­on said those who provide assistance to voters must take oaths to protect the secrecy of those ballots.

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