As it has always supported the right of people with disabilities to be able to privately cast their votes, the Western New York Independent Living, Inc. Family of Agencies (WNYIL) applauds the success of five disability rights organizations in settling a March 22, 2020 lawsuit with the New York State Board of Elections (NYSBOE) to ensure that people with disabilities have the right to an accessible absentee ballot. Reached just last week, the agreement requires that eligible individuals must apply to their County Boards of Elections (BOEs) by Tuesday June 16th for a ballot to vote in the June 23rd Primary Election or a special election being held on June 23 to fill a vacancy in the 27th Congressional District (Counties: Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wyoming, part of Erie, Monroe, Niagara, and Ontario). Completed ballots would have to be emailed by June 22nd or delivered to the County BOE in person by June 23rd.

Here is the process, step-by-step:

A voter who is unable to mark a paper ballot because of a disability can request an accessible absentee ballot on-line by using the request form found here:

You may need to download this form to your device and open in Adobe so you can complete and send by email.

Again, the voter MUST email their completed request form to their county BOE on or before June 16th. Voters can sign the request form with text input or e-signature.

The county BOE will email the accessible absentee ballot to the voter as soon as possible after it receives the voter’s request form. The county BOE also mails a postage-paid return envelope and oath envelope to the voter.

On the electronic ballot, the voter can mark their selections on the computer and print it out at home.

The voter MUST sign the oath envelope anywhere on the envelope, then put the ballot in the oath envelope. The voter must put the oath envelope in the larger envelope provided with paid postage by the county BOE. A voter must get the ballot into the mail by June 22, or hand-deliver it to the county BOE by June 23, 2020.

If you have questions about New York’s new accessible absentee ballot process, contact WNYIL’s Chief Policy Officer, Todd Vaarwerk, at (716) 836-0822, extension 101, or email him As he is working outside the office, please allow some time for him to respond.

Our congratulations go out to the litigants, which include WNYIL’s sister agency, the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York (CIDNY); Disability Rights New York (DRNY); the American Council of the Blind—New York, Inc. (ACB); Disability Rights Advocates (DRA); National Federation of the Blind of New York State, Inc. (NFB), and four individual citizens.

The Western New York Independent Living, Inc. Family of Agencies offer an expanding array of services to aid individuals with disabilities to take control of their own lives.

Special COVID-19 Statement: during the New York State Coronavirus Pause restrictions, the offices of the WNYIL Family of Agencies are closed, (except The Renewal Center hospital diversion program, which is following protocols for sterilization and social distancing). However, we are continuing to serve the community via telephone, email and Internet conferencing, including virtual support groups. Please leave a message and allow some time for us to reply as expediently as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

WNYIL Scent Free Policy: WNYIL maintains a scent-free environment. Office staff, consumers, volunteers, visitors, and board members are asked to refrain from wearing or using any chemical substances that are sensitive to others when at WNYIL facilities. This policy is to ensure equal access to all people with chemical sensitivity disabilities who wish to access WNYIL’S services and programs.

People wearing chemical substances that aggravate chemical sensitivities will not be allowed on the premises of the WNYIL office. Some of the substances include, but are not limited to, the following: 1. Perfume or cologne; 2. Fragrances; 3. After shave; 4. Any types of Alcohol; 5. Cleaning products, 6. Air freshener; 7. Other scented products; 8. Smoking.

WNYIL requests that all employees, board members, volunteers, visitors and consumers refrain from wearing or using any type of chemical substance at the offices and to adhere to the chemical substance policies. Any person not in compliance with this policy will be asked to leave the premises.