These resolutions were adopted by the National Federation of the Blind of Montana Treasure State virtual convention on Saturday, September 25, 2021.
Resolution 2021-01 Regarding The Use of the Electronic Ballot Return Option by blind Voters in Montana
WHEREAS, The ability to cast a secret ballot privately, independently, and securely is a cornerstone of our democracy that enables citizens to vote their consciences with confidence; and
WHEREAS, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which was signed into law over thirty years ago, requires that voters with disabilities have the same opportunities to exercise their right to vote as do voters without disabilities; and
WHEREAS, While Montana has had the option to mark a ballot electronically since 2017, the current electronic ballot return system cannot be used by the blind without sighted assistance, because it requires the voter to print out, sign, and date the ballot and to return it by regular mail; and
WHEREAS, Federal military and overseas voters have the ability to return ballots electronically, but the blind do not: NOW, THEREFORE,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in convention assembled this twenty-fifth day of September, 2021, that this organization call upon Montana state government to require that the same electronic ballot return option used by federal military and overseas voters be made available to blind Montana voters, as is required by federal law.
Resolution 2021-02 Regarding the Creation of the Blind and Low Vision Services Bureau in Montana
WHEREAS, Historically, stand alone service agencies for the blind assure the highest quality employment and independent living outcomes by nurturing and developing the unique abilities of the blind, and by employing a dedicated staff with the expertise to show the blind how to be good at being blind; and
WHEREAS, Such an autonomous division for the blind was established by Montana law within state government in 1979; and
WHEREAS, Over the succeeding four decades, state government has gradually abandoned its strong commitment to blind Montanans by slowly eroding the division standing and incrementally merging blind and low vision services into the general vocational rehabilitation program; and
WHEREAS, To reverse this trend and to re-establish what the 1979 state law intended and what blind Montanans require of their state vocational and rehabilitation agency, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) created the Blind and Low Vision Services Bureau within the Disability Employment and Transitions division in 2021; and
WHEREAS, The creation of this bureau fully complies with both the letter and the spirit of the 1979 law, and reaffirms Montana’s commitment to provide quality vocational rehabilitation and independent living services to the blind: NOW, THEREFORE,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Montana in convention assembled this twenty-fifth day of September, 2021, that this organization applaud state government for creating the Bureau of Blind and Low Vision Services within the disability Employment and Transitions division of the Montana Department of Health and Human Services.