Voting Machines that Provide Improved Voting Access for Blind and DeafBlind Community Get Test Run at Helen Keller Services
Brooklyn, NY (November 2, 2022) – Helen Keller Services (HKS), a New York-based non-profit offering programs and services for the Blind and DeafBlind Community, helped to demonstrate new voting machines that use modern technology to help make voting more accessible for Blind and DeafBlind individuals here today.
The ExpressVote XL, created by Election Systems & Software (ES&S), offers all voters a simple and inclusive voting experience. This universal voting machine uses touch screen technology to produce a voter-verifiable paper ballot. The 32-inch interactive screen can display multiple languages as well as larger text and high-contrast colors. Assistive input devices, including headphones, an audio-tactile keypad with Braille legends, two-position rocker switch and an input for a sip-and-puff device, make operation of the machine easier for people who do not have use of their sight or hearing or require adaptive technology. The machine can be positioned for both standing and seated voters and allows everyone to vote in the same private and independent manner.
“The way New York voters cast their ballots today is a bit of a marginalized process,” said Kevin Kerrigan, Sales Engineer, ES&S. “The machine that has the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant features is a separate machine from the one that tabulates the vote. Anyone who needs to use it needs to declare that when they check in. That can be a bit of an embarrassing and prohibitive experience for them to vote.”
“Voting with a visual disability can induce a lot of anxiety in people and can actually deter a lot of people from voting,” said Gus Chalkias, Program Director of Assistive Tech Services for Helen Keller Services, who used the machine in the demonstration. “This could potentially increase voter turnout for people with disabilities because they know they can walk up to any machine and cast their vote.”
This paper-based voting machine will not be in use this Election Day 2022 in New York, but the technology is currently being evaluated by the New York Board of Elections and will hopefully be approved for use in New York in 2023. The machines are in use in other major cities across the United States.