Following the confusion surrounding the 2000 election, many states and municipalities will be purchasing new voting systems. Some of the systems in use today are accessible to people with visual impairments, but most are not. For instance, some Direct Recording Electronic (computerized) systems can be used by people with visual impairments. However, Mechanical Lever systems, Optical Scan systems and Punch-card systems cannot. Computerized systems are currently being used in only 9.1% of jurisdictions, according to the National Organization on Disability.

Technologies such as synthesized speech and voice-activated software allow information to be accessed through both visual and non-visual means. These technologies can be incorporated into voting systems and enable blind people to vote privately and independently. A list of companies which manufacture accessible voting systems appears at the conclusion of this paper.

Current Law

In 1982, Congress amended the Voting Rights Act to allow voters with disabilities to designate who will enter the voting booth with them and assist them in casting their ballots. Although this change in law took control over who would provide assistance away from the elections officials and put it in the hands of the voter requesting assistance, it still did not allow blind people to cast a secret ballot, or to independently confirm that their vote was cast as they intended.

The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984, requires states and municipalities to make available "aids" to assist with registration and voting in federal elections. However, this act provides no guidance as to how officials might determine which "aids" will provide appropriate assistance to voters needing access to a particular voting system or facility.

Proposed Legislation

ACB supports legislation which would require states and municipalities that use federal funds to purchase new voting systems to ensure that any system upgrades will be accessible to and usable by people who are blind and visually impaired. Therefore, we support S565, the Equal Protection of Voting Rights Act of 2002. This bill provides for the establishment of a uniform national standard for accessibility, which all states and localities must meet as a condition of receiving federal funds for election modernization. We believe that the language in the Senate bill is preferable to that in the bill passed by the House earlier this year. The House bill (HR3295) does require that state and local election officials comply with the ADA and the Voting Rights for the Elderly and Handicapped Act. It further requires that they insure that their election systems and polling places provide a "practical and effective" means for all voters to cast a ballot. However, these specific means by which jurisdictions are to determine whether their

Election process is accessible to voters with disabilities, including those who are blind, is left for the jurisdiction to decide. Further, this is a matter to be studied by the federal commission established to manage the federal role in elections. In our view, these provisions are not sufficient to insure that voters who are blind or visually impaired will be given the opportunity to cast a private, independent, and verifiable ballot. Therefore, we are urging Congress to pass a measure which contains more definitive, nationwide accessibility provisions.

Manufacturers of Accessible Voting Equipment
(Updated July 2001)

Vballot (formally Eballot)

Validity Systems
2018 156th Ave NE #100
Bellevue, WA 98006
phone: (425)748-5007
fax: (425)644-2185

Hart Intercivic
P.O. Box 80649
Austin, Texas 78708-0649
Phone: 1-800-223-HART
P.O. Box 2655
Kirkland, WA 98083
Phone: (425)827-5156
Toll Free: 888-457-6863
Fax: (425)803-9647
Web site:

Diversified Dynamics
9 South 12th Street
Financial District
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: (804)225-8280
Fax: (804)225-8380

Guardian Voting Systems
886 Terhune Road, SE
Rome, GA 30161
Phone: (706)290-9463
Fax: (706)290-0963
Web Site:

The Elector
World Wide Election Systems, Inc
275 Waneka Parkway, Suite 1
Lafayette, CO 80026
Phone: (303)926-9734
Fax: (303)926-3735

True Ballot, Inc.

ES&S (Election Systems & Software)
11208 John Galt Blvd.
Omaha, NE 68137
Phone: 402-593-0101 / 1-800-247-8683
Fax: 402-593-8107

AVC Edge
Sequoia Pacific Voting Equipment Inc.
Post Office Box 1399
Jamestown, NY 14702
Phone: 716-487-0161
Fax: 716-487-0926

Global Election Systems (multiple products & technologies)
1611 Wilmwth Road
McKinney, TX 75069

Phone: (818) 512-1024
Fax: (818) 789-2724

Web Tools International
4440 Von Karman Av., Suite 125
Newpost Beach CA 92660
Phone: (949)200-4000
Fax: (949)200-4005

Shoup Voting Solutions, Inc.
1927 East Saw Mill Road
Quakertown, PA 18951
Phone: (215) 538-0779
Fax: (215) 538-3283

Envox 4.0
Envox (US) Ltd
Westborough Office Park
2000 Westpark Dr.
Westborough, MA, 01281
Phone: (508) 898-02600

Avante International Technology Inc.
70 Washington Road
Princeton Junction, NJ 08550-1012
Telephone: (609) 799-9388
Fax: (609) 799- 9308

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