FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 29, 2019  

GOV. POLIS SIGNS BILL TO IMPROVE MAIL-IN BALLOT ACCESS FOR VOTERS WITH DISABILITIES

DENVER, Colo.Today Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 19-202, which received overwhelming bipartisan support to improve mail-in ballot access for voters with disabilities. As a result, the Secretary of State will provide voters with disabilities a secure and accessible solution to mark a ballot privately and independently using the nonvisual access, low vision, or other assistive technology with which they are most familiar.

“Voting is a fundamental right in our country,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “By signing this bill, the state will remove unintended barriers to voting by mail for Coloradans with disabilities.”

The Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) partnered with the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado (NFBCO), Secretary of State Jena Griswold, Senator Jessie Danielson (D), Senator Rachel Zenzinger (D), and Representative Meg Froelich (D) to urge the 72nd Colorado General Assembly to authorize the development of an accessible ballot marking system. Once implemented, the system will enable voters with disabilities to privately and independently mark their own ballots, which is the intent of Colorado’s vote-by-mail system. This legislation authorizes the Secretary of State’s office to invest in the development of technology that will improve our democracy for Coloradans with disabilities.

OIT’s Technology Accessibility Advisory Board collaborated and supported the passage of this bill. “We want to be able to vote privately and independently just like our sighted friends, neighbors, and coworkers,” OIT Accessibility Solutions Architect Theresa Montano explained.

In 2013, the Colorado General Assembly passed The Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act (House Bill 13-1303) making Colorado a vote-by-mail state. At the time, no technology was available for voters with disabilities to privately and independently mark their printed mail-in ballots at home. Though they could visit voter service and polling centers to use available assistive technologies, voters with disabilities did not have equal choices in terms of how or when they vote, something required under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Along with its collaborative support of this bill, the OIT Technology Accessibility Advisory Board has been working steadily to improve government technology accessibility for the blind and visually impaired. The advisory board’s efforts include the creation of an OIT Accessibility Mailbox (accessibility@state.co.us) which allows persons using adaptive technology to report issues they experience with State of Colorado websites or services to ensure continuous improvement in this area.


About OIT
The Colorado Governor's Office of Information Technology (OIT) is responsible for the operation and delivery of information and communications technology services and innovation across all Executive Branch agencies in the State of Colorado. OIT’s charge is twofold: (1) to provide world-class IT services to Colorado’s Executive Branch agencies; and (2) to promote Colorado as the ideal location for IT companies and technology-based workers. OIT drives innovative technology solutions, provides quality service, and supports the agencies whose missions are so critical to serving Coloradans. We do this by overseeing technology initiatives at the state level, recommending strategies and maximizing efficiencies of service delivery in a cost-effective manner through the application of enterprise technology solutions. Our enterprise approach also enables the agile delivery of new applications to state agencies that improve citizen access to government services while increasing accountability and transparency.


Media Contact: 
Brandi Simmons
Chief Communications Officer & PIO 
303.764.6897
brandi.simmons@state.co.us