[go to this web site and you can watch the video of using the ballot marking device]

Sept. 14, 2007


Voting machine aids those with disabilities

By: Katie Morse


CANTON, N.Y. -- There's something special about one voting machine in St. Lawrence County. It's designed for people with a wide-range of physical disabilities and it allows them to go out and vote, rather than vote at home with an absentee ballot.


"It's important because everybody should have the right to cast their ballot in a private fashion, and to provide access to all voters," said Robin St. Andrews, from the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections.


The machine can enlarge type for those who are vision-impaired, has raised buttons for people with limited use of their limbs, offers an audio component and is equipped with a sip and puff system for those who are not able to use their arms.


"You simply blow into it. Even lightly. Perhaps you have a lung problem where you don't have a lot of lung strength. Even the slightest will cast that," said Barbara Weiss, from the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections.


This machine was available last year in St. Lawrence County, but no one with a physical disability chose to come out and use it. This year the Board of Elections is hoping to get the word out and more people out voting.


"For this year we are hoping that perhaps we will have some individuals who truly have need for this type of system to come and try it out. Give it a try, and give us some feedback on it," said St. Andrews.


"Accessibility in general is extremely important for all individuals. Whether it's technology, or being able to get around, I just think that having those options available will give people the independence to go out and actually go to the voting booth," said Amy Dougan, of the Cerebral Palsy Association.


Using the voting booth is not necessary. Voters can still choose to cast their vote with an absentee ballot, but it is another option.


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