Equipment to Enable Individuals with Disabilities to Vote with Independence and Privacy
Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap announced on Wednesday that accessible voting equipment has been selected for purchase this year to enable individuals with disabilities to vote with privacy and independence—a first ever opportunity for many.
“This November’s election will represent the first time individuals with a variety of disabilities will be able to mark a ballot without meaningful help from another individual. In the past, the choices made by a voter in this situation were often known to the person providing assistance. This will be an important and historic election—a substantial step forward in terms of voting privacy and independence,” Dunlap added.
Secretary Dunlap announced that the Inspire Vote-By-Phone system, produced by IVS, LLC of Kentucky, has been selected following an extensive review process that involved a broad range of interested individuals and organizations—including individuals with disabilities and local election officials.
“Many individuals have participated in this effort to select an accessible voting solution that will best meet the needs of Maine voters. The information, insights and feedback they provided has been invaluable. Their time and commitment to this process is appreciated a great deal,” Dunlap commented.
Although most voters in Maine will continue to cast a paper ballot by the methods they’ve become accustomed to, each voting location in Maine will feature one accessible voting device. This will enable the State to comply with the federal requirements of the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
The Inspire Vote-By-Phone system allows voters to cast their ballots using a telephone and fax combination that will be set up at their local polling place. After arriving at the polling place, the voter may request to vote by phone. The poll worker will use the designated phone to call the central system, enter the appropriate access codes, and give the phone to the voter.
The system will present the voter with audio instructions and an audio ballot. The voter will indicate choices by pressing the corresponding keys on the phone keypad. The system will audibly verify the voter’s selections and give the voter the opportunity to change them. Once the voter has indicated that he/she is casting a ballot, the system will generate a paper ballot marked with the voter’s choices and fax it back to the voter. The voter will then take the paper ballot from the fax machine and put it into the official ballot box where it will be counted with all the other ballots.
This system was chosen after a comprehensive evaluation process that included input from representatives of the disability community and municipal clerks. It was determined that the Inspire system will meet the needs of the disability community and do it in the most cost-effective manner, saving the State millions of dollars over the next several years. The purchase will be funded almost entirely by the federal government. The total cost to initially equip 600 voting locations is expected to be approximately $1.5 million.
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