2018 Parliamentary Recap

by Carla Hayes, Team Leader

The Parliamentary Team was very busy in 2018. Here is a summary of the changes to the PCB Bylaws and the resolutions for 2018.

In general, the 2018 amendments dealt with the subject of Special Interest Affiliates and tightened up the language and format of the Bylaws to make the requirements for Special Interest Affiliates similar to those for chapters.

In Article IX: Chapters and Affiliates, Section 1 regarding chapters of PCB remained unchanged. Section 2 was modified to provide for the establishment of special interest affiliates similar to that for chapters, including: the number of members (eight rather than ten) and responsibility of charter approval reassigned from the convention to the board of directors. Since section 3 was revised to define identical standards of good standing for both chapters and special interest affiliates, section 4 regarding Special Interest Affiliates became unnecessary and was removed.

In Article IV: Membership, Section 9: Dues has been revised to reflect the following changes. The number of dues and method of collection of dues from each member of PCB, regardless of the type of affiliation, are now identical. The language establishing dues of fifty dollars per special interest affiliate has been removed. In the final paragraph, the words “special interest affiliates” are no longer necessary and have been removed.

Finally, in Article VI: Powers and Duties of the Board of Directors: Section 3 Credentials tightens up language ensuring that all provisions are identical for chapters and special interest affiliates.

If you would like to explore this year’s revisions to the PCB Bylaws in more detail, please review John Luttenberger’s article, “2018 Proposed Bylaw Amendments,” which was published in the fall 2018 issue of The PCB Advocate. Since all the proposed amendments were approved at the PCB Convention, this article gives an excellent summary of the pertinent sections of the Bylaws before and after the revisions, and explanations for all the changes which were made.

Three resolutions were approved at the 2018 PCB Conference and Convention. RESOLUTION 2018-01, Guaranteeing Independent and Private Voting for Persons Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was composed by Sue Lichtenfels on behalf of the AGA Team. Since accessible voting is of utmost importance to those of us who are blind or visually impaired, and it is essential for all PCB members to have a clear understanding of the coming changes in voting procedures, I feel that it is best to print this resolution in its entirety rather than summarizing it. Here it is:

Guaranteeing Independent & Private Voting for Persons Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

WHEREAS, Title 2 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires state and local governments to ensure people with disabilities have a full and equal opportunity to vote including voter registration, polling site location, and casting of ballots; and,

WHEREAS, more than twenty-eight years after the passage of the ADA, Pennsylvania voters who are blind or visually impaired have never been afforded the opportunity for a fully accessible absentee ballot which would enable them to vote independently and privately; and,

WHEREAS, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires that each polling site in jurisdictions conducting federal elections have at least one voting system that is accessible, including to citizens who are blind or visually impaired, which provides the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence, which other voters enjoy; and,

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will be decertifying fully accessible machines that have been providing voter access for over a decade and forcing its counties to move to a paper record balloting system; and,

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth will be certifying a new collection of voter verifiable balloting machines for the counties to choose from, with the goal of implementation by 2020; and,

WHEREAS, the most basic voting process of writing on a paper ballot is not accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired; and,

WHEREAS, the technology exists to provide Pennsylvanians who are blind or visually impaired with both an absentee ballot process and an in-person voter-verifiable ballot system which are fully accessible, and provide for an independent, private, and secure vote;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the assembled convention of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind (PCB) on October 21, 2018 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh-Green Tree, that PCB call on the Governor of the Commonwealth, the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation, and each County Board of Elections to make every effort possible to insure that Pennsylvania citizens who are blind or visually impaired are afforded every opportunity to cast an independent and private ballot, both in-person and through absentee procedures, prior to the 2020 General Election; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that PCB strongly urge the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the Bureau of Commissions, Elections, and Legislation to arrange a special, interactive demonstration of all machines under consideration for certification, which is open only to people who are blind or visually impaired, so that these individuals may provide real-world feedback on the accessibility of all processes of these machines, prior to their certification; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation, by certifying any machine that is not fully accessible, will be in violation of the ADA and therefore vulnerable to litigation on behalf of citizens who are blind or visually impaired; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation certify an absentee balloting system that is accessible to citizens who are blind or visually impaired, and that a declaration from the Secretary be made to every County Board of Elections requiring the Board to adopt and implement such absentee voting system by the 2020 deadline to receive any moneys allocated to support election upgrades; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that PCB provide a copy of this resolution to all named officials and entities upon its adoption.

Resolutions 2018-02 and 2018-03 were courtesy resolutions thanking the convention planners and the Staff and Management of the DoubleTree by Hilton in Pittsburgh-Green Tree, respectively. Finally, we decided that from now on, we will write additional courtesy resolutions thanking the organizations that provide volunteers who help with various tasks at our annual PCB Conference and Convention.

I would like to conclude by thanking all the members of the Parliamentary Team for all their time and hard work on the 2018 amendments and resolutions. They include: John Luttenberger, Tom Burgunder, Mike Gravitt, and Fran Sine. I would also like to thank PCB President Sue Lichtenfels and the Executive Board for all their support and hard work. These amendments to the Bylaws and resolutions would not have been possible without all of you.

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