In the November 2017 election, blind and low vision voters in San Mateo County for the first time in California’s history were able to cast their absentee ballots privately and independently as a result of a landmark federal case brought by Lisa Ells, Michael Nunez and Andrew Spore of RBGG and co-counsel Robert Rubin. For their work on this case, Lisa, Mike and Andy have received the prestigious California Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award.
On March 20, 2018, the California Council of the Blind, an association of blind and visually impaired Californians, and two individual plaintiffs announced the final settlement of their federal lawsuit against the County of San Mateo and the State of California challenging the unlawful and discriminatory exclusion of blind and low vision voters from the County of San Mateo’s absentee voting program.
As a result of the groundbreaking legal action culminating in this final settlement, blind and low vision voters in San Mateo County were able to cast their absentee ballots independently in time for the November 2017 election. “The California Council of the Blind is very pleased to bring the lawsuit to such a successful conclusion,” said Judy Wilkinson, President of the California Council of the Blind. “This settlement marks a major milestone in our efforts to provide blind and low-vision voters with equal access to absentee voting in California.”
“San Mateo’s implementation of the accessible absentee voting tools has been fast, inexpensive, and smooth,” added plaintiffs’ lead counsel Lisa Ells of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld. “We look forward to the other counties following suit so that all California voters with vision impairments can take advantage of the convenience of absentee voting without sacrificing their right to vote privately and independently.”
Plaintiffs were awarded attorney fees totaling $1,164,500. Full press release announcing final settlement here. A copy of the settlement agreement is available here: CCB v San Mateo Settlement Agreement