Re: [OVC-discuss] Privately and independently -- how will OVC deal with this?

From: Edward Cherlin <echerlin_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Sun Jun 28 2009 - 03:18:56 CDT

We need to find out what categories of disability currently matter
under various laws. We might start here (one law school, one Federal,
one California):
Wex is an ambitious effort to construct a collaboratively-created,
public-access law dictionary and encyclopedia. It is sponsored and
hosted by the Legal Information Institute at the Cornell Law School.
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section

A Guide to Disability Rights Laws
California Disability Access Information Website

On Sat, Jun 27, 2009 at 11:17 AM, Alan Dechert<> wrote:
> I've thought about this a bit more, and I have arrived at a few conclusions.
> Eventually, we will have to design an add-on device (or perhaps several
> different devices) for accessibility.  In thinking about the AutoCAST
> feature ES&S claims to have developed for the AutoMARK, we could probably
> make something that works with our system - maybe better than the AutoCAST.
> Depending on the nature of the voter's disabilities, the device could plug
> into, say, three USB ports: one for the barcode reader, one for the
> mechanical paper handling device, and one for sip-and-puff input.  A blind
> quadriplegic could use it - so long as he or she could hear via headphones.
> After review of the printed ballot, the voter could choose to cast or reject
> the ballot.  The ballot would then descend through one chute or the other,
> into the ballot box or spoiled bin.
> But this brings up the problem we have with the Holt bill.  Who are we
> designing this for?
> Then again, the problem is not so much with the Holt bill, but the HAVA bill
> itself.  HAVA says the voter with disabilities needs to be able to vote
> independently and with privacy.  It's mentioned several times in HAVA.  Here
> is one example:
>    . need to make voting equipment fully accessible for individuals
>    with disabilities, including the blind and visually impaired, the
>    need to ensure that such individuals can vote independently and
>    with privacy,
> This language is highly problematic.  "Privacy" is not really a big problem.
> We can pretty easily understand and define what's meant by that.  The voter
> should be able to indicate selections and cast the ballot without revealing
> those selections to anyone else.
> The big problem is what is meant by "independently."  My opposition to Holt
> is not because I don't care if people with disabilities can vote privately
> and independently.  It is because "independently" is poorly defined.
> I believe that the litigation will be necessary to get this definition.
> Strategically, we should get the litigation going right away.  This could
> freeze Holt until we get a better definition of "independently."
> We need to know two things:
> 1) For whom are we designing the accessible device?  For example, what if
> our system works for a blind quadriplegic, but not a short and obese blind
> quadriplegic?
> 2) What is meant by independently?  For example, does it really mean the
> voter will not need assistance reviewing and casting the ballot?  If the
> voter rejects the ballot, must the system allow restarting without
> assistance?
> Here's an outline of what needs study:
> We need to work up profiles of voters with a variety of disabilities and
> combinations of disabilities.  For the sake of argument, let's say we
> develop 100 profiles such that all of the potential voters with disabilities
> can be categorized in one of these profiles.  Disabilities taken in to
> consideration would include such things as dexterity, cognition, sight,
> hearing, mobility, as well as unusual size and shape.  These things could
> even include allergies (maybe they have to wear a mask if they go out).  For
> example, profile 73 could be for a short and obese blind quadriplegic with
> poor cognition (we may need a lot more than 100 profiles).
> Then we need to collect data on people that fit these profiles.  And we need
> to get some answers about these people.  One of the issues not dealt with in
> HAVA is that people with disabilities tend to vote at home with whatever
> assistance they need.  Even if a machine would allow them to vote privately
> and independently at the pollsite, they're just not going to use it anyway.
> Informal studies show that practically no one uses existing accessible
> voting machines.
> - How many people fit this profile?
> - If a pollsite voting machine that works for people in this category, what
> percentage of them would go there and use it?
> - Do people in this category tend to congregate?  If so, where?  (for
> example, it might be that people in this category can't live in MN. they all
> move to Ourtown FL.  So, there is no point setting up a machine in MN that
> meets this specific disability when they all live in FL).
> - Can people in this category be best served with a portable voting machine
> brought to their home?
> Then we need to propose some thresholds.  What if people in category 73 make
> up .0002 percent of the population?  Of these, say, only one in 50 would go
> to the poll site to vote if a machine was there to accommodate them.
> I don't have any specific numbers for thresholds, but some such numbers must
> be used somewhere.  Bottom line is that we need something that says
> something like, "if there is a less than one in five chance that a voter in
> this category will come to the pollsite on Election Day, then the accessible
> voting machine does not need to accommodate voters in this category."
> In other words, we need to define all the categories, figure out where they
> live, and then figure out for each category the odds that the voters in this
> category will go to the pollsite.
> Until we have this information, we can't really know what's required to meet
> the independence requirement.  In addition, some other specifics will be
> needed in the independence definition.  For example, is it okay if the
> system requires the voter to ask for assistance in order to print another
> ballot in case the first printout is rejected?
> So, the nature of the lawsuit might be that we demand that the government
> provide this information.  The HAVA accessibility requirement can't be
> enforced without it.
> Alan D.
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Received on Tue Jun 30 23:17:16 2009

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