Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Southern District of Ohio at Columbus.
No. 2:15-cv-03061—George C. Smith, District Judge.
Argued: October 12, 2017
Decided and Filed: November 13, 2017
Before: SUHRHEINRICH, GRIFFIN, and KETHLEDGE, Circuit Judges.
GRIFFIN, Circuit Judge.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., provides
important safeguards protecting the rights of the disabled. In this appeal, plaintiffs claim Ohio’s
paper-ballot absentee voter system discriminates against the blind, in violation of Title II of the
ADA. Under the Ohio scheme, blind voters must seek the aid of a sighted person in order to
vote absentee, thus depriving them of the ability to vote anonymously. Plaintiffs propose that the
State of Ohio provide blind voters with an online absentee ballot in lieu of a paper one, and adopt
online ballot marking tools used in other states for blind voters. The district court granted
judgment on the pleadings in favor of defendant Ohio Secretary of State, ruling that plaintiffs’
proposed accommodation would fundamentally alter Ohio’s voting program. Because the
district court based its ruling on defendant’s mere allegation of an affirmative defense without
any evidentiary support, we reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this