Burnet County named in complaint over elections website accessibility
Burnet County was named in a systemic class complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice on Sept. 4. The complaint was filed by the advocacy group Disability Rights Texas (DRTx). It alleges that more than 80 county election websites in Texas do not comply with federal laws requiring the sites be accessible to people with disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act Title II complaint cites an investigative report that DRTx released in July, “Web Failures: How County Voting Websites Leave Voters with Disabilities in the Dark.” It scores county voting websites on their accessibility. Burnet County scored just 16 percent using the DRTx model, whereas Blanco County scored 43 percent and Llano County 80 percent. Neither Blanco nor Llano counties are named in the complaint.
The report looked at several elements relating to accessibility, including how the website works with screen readers and other assistive technology. It also assessed the sites for clarity, readability, and essential voting information.
“Finding sample ballots, finding information on what your voting rights are, finding information to prepare ahead of time if you’re living somewhere more remote, it’s a little more difficult to access that information,” said Molly Broadway, voting rights training specialist for DRTx. “Some of these things are easy fixes.”
Following the release of the report, DRTx notified counties of how they fell short and requested that the county inform DRTx of their plans to address the accessibility issues. Including Burnet, 83 counties were unresponsive.
“The counties listed on the DOJ complaint, we didn’t receive a response from,” Broadway said. “Not to say that they don’t care. It’s a busy time. It’s a weird world we’re living in now. These are just the counties we didn’t receive a response from, so they are now listed in the complaint.”
When reached for comment, Burnet County Elections Office Administrator Doug Ferguson said he was unfamiliar with both the report and the complaint.