Re: AAPD attacking AutoMark

From: Teresa Hommel <tahommel_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Sun Apr 24 2005 - 20:31:26 CDT

Note that Jim Dickson opposes everything except DREs, and has
consistently put accessibility ahead of verifiability because he
"trusts" computers.

Note that different disabilities require different assistance, and that
is why a wheelchair is not the same as a pair of glasses, a set of
headphones, or a hearing aid.

Teresa Hommel

Arthur Keller wrote:

> This has implications for the OVC model architecture.
> Best regards,
> Arthur
>> electionline Weekly - March 31, 2005
>> <>
>> I. In Focus This Week
>> 'Hybrid' voting machines raise questions about certification,
>> accessibility
>> By <> Elizabeth Schneider
>> They were touted as the solution to the problem of paper and
>> accessibility
>> in voting. Manufacturers of "hybrid" voting machines, which look and act
>> like touch-screen systems but use a high-tech interface to mark paper
>> ballots, say their systems bring the flexibility of e-voting - multiple
>> languages, font sizes, accessibility for voters with disabilities,
>> reduced
>> printing costs - with the ballot-by-ballot auditability of optical-scan
>> systems.
>> It's a tempting choice for states seeking to balance the needs of
>> those with
>> disabilities with concerns over direct-recording electronic (DRE)
>> systems,
>> which do not allow an independent paper audit of individual ballots.
>> In nine months - by January 1, 2006 - states must meet the voting-system
>> accessibility mandates of the Help America Vote Act. If a state accepted
>> punch-card and lever machine buyout money, it must replace systems
>> statewide. All states must purchase at least one machine per polling
>> accessible to people with disabilities.
>> And that gives them little time to figure out the maze of voting system
>> certification.
>> Given the current and complex system of voting machine certification,
>> which
>> uses standards that were last updated in 2002, election officials are
>> still
>> unsure how to meet the January 2006 deadline, and at the same time
>> comply
>> with standards that might not be on target with the yet-to-be released
>> guidelines. (See last week's
>> <>
>> electionline Weekly for more.)
>> The manufactures of the hybrid
>> <> AutoMark system
>> say
>> their machines comply with the HAVA mandates. Some groups representing
>> voters with disabilities disagree.
>> In a <>
>> letter
>> addressed to Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, the American
>> Association
>> of People with Disabilities (AAPD) states several counties in Ohio
>> plan to
>> purchase an AutoMark system in order to comply with the new state
>> law. By
>> doing so, the AAPD argues, they would violate the law.
>> "The AutoMark is not accessible for those disabled Buckeyes who cannot
>> handle paper... purchasing the AutoMark not only violates the Help
>> America
>> Vote Act, it is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act
>> and the
>> Rehabilitation Act," states the AAPD letter.
>> The AutoMark is outfitted with a sip/puff tube for voters who are
>> unable to
>> use a touch screen or touch pad and an audio function for voters with
>> impaired vision. The <> Populex machine, a
>> similar
>> hybrid, also allows touch controls and other "enhanced navigation" for
>> people with disabilities.
>> Jim Dickson, vice president of government affairs for the AAPD,
>> argues that
>> people who are unable to use their hands will lose their right to a
>> secret
>> ballot with the AutoMark machine because, "a voter who casts a ballot
>> on the
>> system would be required to carry the marked ballot and then insert
>> it into
>> a vote tabulator."
>> "HAVA outlines that the voting process is to be independent," says
>> Dickson.
>> "And the simple problem [with AutoMark] is the loss of independence and
>> secrecy."
>> According to several groups supporting the voting rights of the disabled
>> community, including the American Council of the Blind, the use of
>> direct-recording electronic machines, already certified by the federal
>> government and in use in many states, has proven to be the most
>> accessible
>> voting system. DREs can also be outfitted with a printer to produce a
>> voter-verifiable paper record.
>> According to the National Institute for of Standards and Technology
>> (NIST),
>> HAVA allocates $850 million to the states over three years to purchase
>> accessible voting equipment, footing about 95 percent of the total cost.
>> The AutoMark has also drawn fire from the United Spinal Association.
>> "This system is accessible, but not to all," the group wrote in a
>> <> letter
>> opposing
>> the use of the machines.
>> According to Ellen Bogard, a spokesperson for ES&S, the voting machine
>> company which markets the system, the AutoMark ensures the privacy of
>> every
>> voter. A voter would be able to use a secrecy sleeve which would
>> protect the
>> ballot from view, and for those who require assistance handling the
>> ballot
>> ES&S can "prepare ballots without any candidate names, initiatives or
>> other
>> ballot measures printed on the document."
>> But the cost of the machines could discourage some localities, even
>> if they
>> want the hybrid technology. Ohio, for example, has increased its
>> voter rolls
>> by nearly one million people in the past two years. "The $106 million
>> the
>> state received for new voting technology will not be enough to reach the
>> states original goal of supplying one accessible machine per 200
>> registered
>> voters," said Carlo LaParo, a spokesperson for Blackwell. "The
>> AutoMark is
>> currently outside of our budget."
>> According to the AAPD, the cost of the AutoMark is at least 30 percent
>> higher than accessible touch screens. Elaine Gravely, Montana's deputy
>> secretary of state for elections, told a local newspaper that the
>> machines
>> cost around $5,000.
>> In contrast, Maryland reports the state paid just over $2,800 per
>> touch-screen DREs manufactured by Diebold.
>> To update the standards, NIST was given the authority, under HAVA, to
>> provide technical and administrative support to the body that will
>> make the
>> final recommendation to the federal Election Assistance Commission
>> (EAC).
>> The Institute's Technical Guidelines Development Committee is
>> expected to
>> review and approve the final draft of the new recommendations and
>> standards
>> on April 20th and 21st.
>> Allan Eustis, project leader for the committee, said the reports will
>> serve
>> as a road map to help the EAC create new voting certification standards.
>> "It will be up to the guidelines committee to say 'yea' or 'nay,'" he
>> said.
>> The report from NIST, said Whitney Quesenbery, of Whitney Interactive
>> Design
>> and an advisor to the Technical Guidelines Development Committee
>> specializing in usability, is being rushed out "precisely because of the
>> gaps in the 2002 standards."
>> What's missing, she said, is a specific standard which would cover
>> the full
>> range of a person's abilities, including those that face problems in
>> accessing a voting system, and where the disability affects the
>> usability of
>> the system.
>> According to federal election commissioner Ray Martinez, NIST and the
>> committee are taking existing standards and updating them with a
>> priority on
>> security, accessibility and usability.
>> The AutoMark system, he said, could be problematic for a person who
>> does not
>> have the use of their hands or is blind or visually impaired to take
>> ballots
>> from system to a ballot box which could possibly compromises the
>> independent
>> clause of HAVA.
>> "The EAC has not weighed in on whether this is the case [with the
>> AutoMark]," he said. "We need to look at any of these areas where
>> there is
>> ambiguity or need for greater clarity... and these will be voluntary
>> guidelines."

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Received on Sat Apr 30 23:17:12 2005

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