NEW MACHINES ALLOW BLIND, DISABLED TO VOTE VISUALLY IMPAIRED WILL HEAR BALLOTS
The Macomb County Clerk / Register of Deeds will show off new voting equipment Tuesday designed to make casting a ballot easier for voters with disabilities and advance their independence and privacy in the voting booth. The equipment will be shown to a group of students at the Macomb Intermediate School District Summer Fest 2006, a summer camp for the blind and visually impaired. The Macomb County Clerk will also register students to vote who will be 18 years-old by election day.
"For the first time, Macomb County residents with physical challenges can vote a secret ballot unassisted," said the Macomb County Clerk. "The August 8 primary will be a chance for those with trouble seeing, hearing or moving to make their opinions seen and heard by doing some moving and shaking at the ballot box."
"One of the goals of our program is to teach students to be responsible citizens," said Ann McKay-Bacon, an MISD teacher consultant for the visually impaired. "This new equipment is wonderful because voting is one of the most responsible things a person can do."
The equipment allows voters who have a physical disability or are blind, visually impaired or otherwise unable to mark a ballot in the usual way to do so on a special voting system. Called an AutoMARK, it resembles a fax machine with a large flip-up screen and attachments, including a Braille keypad, magnification features, a headset to listen to candidate names and ballot questions, and a tube to puff air to indicate picks.
One machine will be set up in each voting location in August. Macomb County received 283 AutoMark voting systems as part of a $34 million state contract with Election Systems & Software, Inc. Costs are covered under the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. HAVA mandates that states must have a compliant accessible voting system in place for individuals with disabilities for federal elections in 2006. According to the Michigan Commission on Disability Concerns, 1.9 million of the state's approximately 10 million residents have disabilities.
Photo Editor: The demo will occur, Tues., June 27, 2006 from 1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. at the Macomb Intermediate School District’s Auxiliary and Preschool Service Center, 37623 Garfield, Suite 100, Clinton Twp, N of Metro Parkway on the W side of Garfield
Out of State: 310-575-5035