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New Ballot Marking Technology May Be Answer To Optical Scan Problems
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 27, 2004

OMAHA, NEBRASKA & CHICAGO, ILLINOIS--Earlier this month, Election Systems & Software and AutoMARK Technical Systems announced new technology that would allow people with disabilities to cast secret ballots on standard optical scan voting systems.

According to a joint press release, the new ES&S AutoMARK voter assist terminal is a ballot marking system designed to provide privacy and accessibility to voters who have trouble reading or find it difficult or impossible to mark ballots in the usual manner because of a physical or mental disability.

A zoom feature allows voters to increase the font size of each race listed on optical scan ballots. The technology also provides language assistance to voters who have trouble reading or who are more comfortable using an alternative language. An audio function allows voters to listen to ballot choices through headphones for privacy.

For voters who cannot use the AutoMARK touch screen or touch pad, a sip/puff tube is available.

Designers emphasize that the machine does not tally or store votes, but simply is a way to mark ballots in a way that is accessible and private, and which complies with the Help America Vote Act of 2002. That law, passed in the aftermath of the 2000 general election mess, requires every voting precinct to have accessible voting equipment by January 1, 2006.

The AutoMARK system, which was developed from input by users with disabilities, is currently waiting to be certified by the Federal Elections Commission. Company officials hope to begin distributing them by this fall, they said in the statement.

AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal (Vogue Election System)


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