New Accessible Voting System Available In Norwich
The community vibe of visiting your local polling place is lost when voting by mail.
The Vermont Secretary of State has a new accessible voting system that will be available in Norwich on election day. This state-wide initiative will allow more of the disabled to independently vote, and for some, to again cast a ballot at their local polling place.
The system uses a tablet, allowing the disabled person to mark her or his ballot using a mouse, touch or other assistive device. "Once the voter confirms their selections, a printer marks the same ballot used by all voters ... and the ballot is fed through a tabulator or placed in a ballot box for hand counting like every other vote cast," according to a Vermont Business Magazine news report.
Many disabled persons vote by mail, because they need the assistance of a third-party to mark the ballot. In small-town Vermont, a visit to the local polling place is a community event, even though the ballot is private. I like seeing the candidates outside Tracy Hall, being greeted by Bonnie, saying hello to other voters, and the overall vibe.
The user interface of the system is less than optimal, feel free to ask for assistance and don’t be embarrassed if something is not clear or is seemingly illogical, you are not alone! It may be useful to bring a list of your intended votes with you to ensure that you don’t inadvertently miss one. One shortcoming of the interface is that for races with a large number of candidates (let’s hear it for the Vermont tradition of 3rd, 4th, 5th etc. parties), the individual candidates are not all visible simultaneously, instead requiring the user to scroll down to another screen.
When using the button interface, after selecting a candidate(s) one must scroll down to a “Continue” prompt displayed as a yellow button on the screen. You may certainly be forgiven if you surmise that this prompt needs a response of pushing the yellow “Next>” button. Instead, it requires that the Green “Select” button be pushed. Rest assured that there is no need to worry about these machines being hacked by some nefarious organization. They are not connected to the internet. They do not count the votes. They simply print the voter’s selections on the same paper ballot form that other voters use. The voter is given an opportunity to review the printed ballot for accuracy before feeding the ballot into the ballot box.
Demo of tablet at Secretary of State press conference. Source: Kit Norton/VTDigger