The New York Association on Independent Living recognizes the 21st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision with the following statement:

Today is the 21st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead v. L.C. decision. The Olmstead decision affirmed the rights of people with disabilities to live and receive services in the most integrated setting. This landmark decision helped pave the way for systemic changes that lead to many more opportunities for people with disabilities to live in their own homes.

Nursing and group homes have always been dangerous places for people to live. We have seen over the past few months that these institutions have been particularly deadly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pandemic related government immunity from prosecution has furthered the lack of accountability that already existed in these institutions. Special interests continue to work against the interests of independence and choice that we fight for every day.

We believe that nobody, regardless of their health or disability status, should be forced into an institution. The Olmstead decision has provided the legal framework for advocates to push for expanded services in the community.

Many advancements have been made over the past 21 years. More work is still left to do in realizing a society that fully embraces independent living philosophy. Too many people are still ending up in nursing and group homes. Far too many people are unable to get out of these institutions once admitted. NYAIL is committed to systemic change that expands opportunities for people with disabilities to live in their own homes, not institutions.


June 3, 2020 – New York, NY – A federal court has approved an agreement between the NYS Board of Elections (NYS BOE) and disability groups that provides voters a more accessible absentee ballot for the upcoming June 23 Primary Election. Following a lawsuit filed on May 22 by a disability rights coalition, the NYSBOE has agreed to email accessible absentee ballots to qualified voters with disabilities. Voters can access an Accessible Absentee Ballot Request Form on the NYS BOE website to request an accessible electronically-delivered absentee
ballot.

The accessible absentee ballot request form is located here:
https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/download/Voting/NYAccessibleElectronicAbsBallotApp.pdf

“We are encouraged by the steps taken to ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to protect both their safety and their vote, via absentee ballot, in the upcoming June primary. However, there is still more to be done before the general election in November for the system to be fully accessible,” says the coalition, which includes Disability Rights New York, the American Council of the Blind—New York, Inc., Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York, Disability Rights Advocates, National Federation of the Blind of New York State, Inc., represented by Eve L. Hill of Brown of Goldstein & Levy LLP and several New York voters with disabilities, including Rasheta Bunting, Karen Gourgey, Keith Gurgui, and Jose Hernandez.

The terms of the agreement, which only applies to the June 23, 2020 Primary Election, include
the following:

  1. A voter with a print disability can request an accessible absentee ballot using theaccessible request form available online.
  2. The voter must send via email their completed request form to their county BOE onor before June 16. Voters can sign the form with text input or e-signature.
  3. The county BOE will send the accessible absentee ballot to the voter by email assoon as possible after it receives the voter’s request form. The county BOE alsomails a postage paid return envelope and oath envelope to the voter.
  4. The voter will receive an email with the accessible ballot, and the voter can marktheir selections on the computer and print it out at home.
  5. The voter must sign the oath envelope anywhere on the envelope, then put the ballotin the oath envelope. The voter must put the oath envelope in the larger envelopeprovided with paid postage by the county BOE. A voter must get the ballot in the mail byJune 22, or hand-delivered it to the county BOE by June 23, 2020.

This agreement does not provide an online ballot submission option, and only applies to the upcoming June election. Plaintiffs will continue their pursuit for a fully accessible absentee ballot for the November 2020 General Election and all subsequent elections.

###

View the full press release at:


The New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL) has released a document outlining how Independent Living Centers (ILCs) are essential in the response to COVID-19 in New York. Core services of ILCs have become more important than ever before to keep people living independently and transitioning to living independently. Many ILCs have also added new programs and services to adapt to the needs of the community. Funding challenges are anticipated for ILCs while New York faces large budget shortfalls, but ILCs save the state money by keeping people in the community and out of life threatening congregate settings.

View the document as a PDF at: