Saturday, February 9, 2008

Votemark machines perform at the primary

The new Votemark ballot marking machines for people with disabilities have had their 2nd election.  Quote from Cheryl LaPointe via the Gazette:

There was, however, some confusion caused by new voting machines designed to assist physically disabled residents. Although the machines — one at each polling center — debuted during the city’s preliminary elections last September, many residents seeing them for the first time mistook them for ballot boxes.
“We need to add more signage for next year,” said Lapointe. “People were confused because the screen on the machines says, ‘Insert ballot here.’”
The machine, an AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal model A100, is designed to aid blind, deaf and physically disabled voters. It is equipped with a computer touch screen, audio headphones. A disabled voter slides his empty ballot into a slot in the machine and casts his vote electronically, and the computer marks the paper ballot.
On Tuesday, many non-disabled voters attempted to slide their standard, secrecy-sleeve covered ballots in the small slot, jamming it up for the users who needed it.
“Several times I had to go down and un-stick the machines,” said Lapointe. “Then we’d have to retest them to make sure they worked.” She added that one of the machines is presently out of commission due to a jam.

Mrs. LaPointe didn't specify which precincts were having problems.  I know I had a problem using the machine in Ward 2 Precinct 2;  the tray that the ballot is fed into was not folded down for use, so I couldn't feed my ballot into it until someone fixed it.  It's somewhat like feeding paper into a printer.  I did get to vote with it after all.

This will be on the agenda for our commission meeting next week.

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