Machines help visually impaired vote
LDR photo/Kelly Morgan
Laclede County Clerk Glenda Mott instructs Kay Steinman on how to use an ExpressVote machine Thursday during a meeting of the Open Hands Outreach for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
On April 4, Laclede County will roll out new election equipment that can accommodate voters with disabilities, but the new technology has already experienced a couple of test runs.
In December, the county bought $147,997.34 worth of election equipment to replace 10-year-old machines. In addition to ballot boxes and scanners, the purchase included 20 ExpressVote machines, which are designed for voters with disabilities but can be used by anybody.
According to Laclede County Clerk Glenda Mott, voters who are blind or visually impaired can read a large print or high contrast version of the ballot on a screen or listen through a pair of headphones as the machine reads the ballot aloud. The ExpressVote machines can also be attached to a sip-and-puff device, which is an assistive technology that allows people who lack the use of their hands to control a wheelchair or computer.
“They can vote in privacy,” Mott stated. “They don’t have to have someone sitting there that maybe is a caretaker or someone that takes them to the polls. They can sit there and do this by themselves.”
The ExpressVote machines will replace the larger AutoMARK machines that the county previously used. Mott said that the AutoMARK machines also allowed voters to use headphones and a keypad to mark their ballots, but the new machines have “more robust” technology and their smaller size makes them easier to transport.