FW: [USDemocrat-DisabilityIssues] The Election and Accessible Ballot Marking Devices

From: Jim Tobias <tobias_at_inclusive_dot_com>
Date: Thu Nov 06 2008 - 05:09:10 CST

Here's a story, and disability-related comment, that should keep us focused
on how voting technologies are actually used, rather than how they are
designed to be used.

Jim Tobias
Inclusive Technologies
+1.908.907.2387 v/sms
skype jimtobias



From: marvinwssrmn@aol.com [mailto:marvinwssrmn@aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, November 05, 2008 10:04 PM
To: dnnyc@yahoogroups.com
Cc: 504dems@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [USDemocrat-DisabilityIssues] The Election and Accessible Ballot
Marking Devices

Not great news in the stories below. Governor Paterson chose to vote on
the lever voting machines.

Also, while one particular voter did vote successfully in Harlem on the
BMD, the story caught poll workers discouraging use of the BMD
because.they didn't trust the machine.they weren't going to announce or
encourage its use - people should have known about it from the
news.they wanted people's votes to count.and one worker said it was
broken. Was this kind of misinformation and discouragement a part of
their training, a reflection of their lack of information and fear of
technology, or an effort to sabotage use of the new system? It
certainly wasn't compliance with the Federal Court order.

Are poll workers going to act this way when they have to replace all of
the lever machines and the general population has to vote on new
technology? Boards of elections have to get their acts together and
enter the 21st century!

There were other complaints that have been communicated over the past
day. Hopefully they will be documented and become public knowledge.

Brad Williams


The New York Times
November 4, 2008, 12:32 pm
Paterson Votes, With Help From His Wife
By Jeremy W. Peters

Governor David Paterson voted at Public School 175 in Harlem. (Photo:
Michael Nagle for The New York Times)

Gov. David A. Paterson, like any high-profile politician who votes on
Election Day, has to maneuver around obstacles that don't encumber
ordinary voters.

He has to stop and talk with constituents who want a hug, a picture or
a few moments of his time to air their concerns - like the Metropolitan
Transportation Authority worker who asked the governor on Tuesday
morning to help him get a raise.

Then there are the reporters, photographers and video crews who follow
his every move, making it a chore just to get through the door.

But for Mr. Paterson, who is completely blind in his left eye and has
very limited vision in his right eye, there is also the issue of basic
voting mechanics: How does he cast his ballot?

As it turns out, he usually doesn't. His wife, Michelle Paige Paterson,
usually pulls the lever for him.

When Mr. Paterson walked into the gymnasium at Public School 175 on
135th Street in Harlem on Tuesday morning to vote, Mrs. Paterson was at
his side, looking every bit the first lady in a brilliant pastel blue
jacket and black suit pants. After they both signed their names in the
voter registration log, Mrs. Paterson entered the voting booth first,
alone, and cast her ballot.

She then stepped out to join Mr. Paterson, who escorted her by the arm
back into the booth. The curtain closed behind them, and they remained
inside for about a minute before the clunk indicated that the lever had
been pulled and that Mr. Paterson's vote had been cast.

On his way out of the gymnasium, Mr. Paterson joked to reporters that
he insisted he pull the lever this time.

"I voted for Senator Obama for president. And I pulled the lever myself
because Senator McCain called Michelle last night. Usually she pulls
the lever for me, but I wanted to make sure," he said with a chuckle.

Mr. Paterson, who was at P.S. 175 for about a half hour before he
actually voted because the crowds were so large, marveled that he had
never seen such high turnout at his polling place.

"I haven't seen lines like these even when the machines were broken,"
he said.

Mr. Paterson, New York's first black governor, spoke about the historic
significance of being able to vote for a black presidential candidate
and added that in that sense, "It's an honor to stand on this line."

He said he did not expect to see a black person nominated for
president, let alone be the apparent front-runner in the race.

"I think that even a number of people around the country who do not
vote for Senator Obama will notice, should he win, what an
extraordinary moment this is in American history," Mr. Paterson said.
"If you're a woman, if you're Hispanic, if you're disabled, if you are
elderly, whoever you are, you kind of know that your chances to succeed
in your endeavor have to be better if Barack Obama wins the presidency.
And for those who don't succeed there are now fewer excuses."

wife/> blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/04/paterson-votes-with-help-from-wife/

The New York Times
November 4, 2008, 2:15 pm
Confusion Over New Ballot Machines for Disabled
By Kathryn Carlson AND Ann Farmer

Updated, 5:08 p.m. | This year, ballot-marking devices - intended to
help disabled voters vote without assistance - became available in all
1,351 polling places in New York City.
The ballot-marking machines enable voters to make their selections by
touching a computer screen - or, less commonly, by "puffing" and
"sipping" air through a straw, pumping a foot pedal, or pressing flat
plastic shapes - two triangles, a circle and a square - affixed to the
four corners of a specially configured keyboard.

But the new ballot-marking devices, introduced in 2006 and not
available citywide until this year, have generated considerable
confusion and uncertainty among poll workers and voters, as evidenced
by the scene today at one polling place, Public School 149 in Harlem.

Voters there complained that there were only two voting machines in
use, while the ballot-marking device had been sitting unused since
polls opened at 6 a.m.
When asked why the ballot-marking device - which is based on a touch
screen - was not open for use, a Democratic district leader at the
polling place, William Allen, said that nobody in line was willing to
use it because of fears that votes would be miscounted for the wrong
candidate or not counted at all.

At that moment, Susan L. Chute, a librarian at the New York Public
Library, who was waiting in line and overheard Mr. Allen's comments,
piped up and offered to use the machine, and said she was angry that it
had not been announced as an option six hours earlier, when polls

"People have been welcome to use the machine, but I'm not going to make
an announcement or encourage it," Mr. Allen said. "People should know
about it from the news, and they can ask to use it," he said, adding,
"I don't trust the machine, and I know people want their votes to

Mr. Allen did say that Ms. Chute could go ahead and use the machine
when it was her turn, but a poll worker initially told Ms. Chute that
the machine was broken. Mr. Allen then spoke with the poll worker, and
they determined that the machine was actually fit and ready for use.

Ms. Chute, who waited in line for nearly four hours, said she was
frustrated that she and those who voted before her were never given an
opportunity to decide for themselves whether they would use the new

"Why wouldn't anyone have mentioned that earlier?" She said. "There
should have been an announcement and the people at the roll book should
have told people they could use the new machine."

"It's very easy to use," she added. "It's like an A.T.M. machine.
People use screens like that every day."

After Ms. Chute asked to use the machine, Mr. Allen made a quick
announcement to the people in line in the multipurpose room that they
could use the ballot-marking device, and poll workers at the front of
the line started asking voters if they would like to use the
touch-screen machine.

Some people did start using it, and placed their paper ballots into a
rickety cardboard box that was not sealed or reinforced in any way.

"This might speed things up now," said Deitra Herbert, as the hour was
now approaching 1 p.m. and the line continued out to the schoolyard. "I
think the machine is fine. There's no levers, just a simple touch
screen. It's actually quite quick to use."

While other voters in line said they did not trust the machine and
would be using the lever-style booths instead, Ms. Chute said she was
confident that her vote was accurately cast.
"I do trust the machine, but I also know that my candidate has New York
so I'm not too worried," she said, adding: "Even if it were a closer
election here, I'd still use the new machine. I trust that it works
just as well as the lever kind."

Nicky Jackson, 39, said she was not so sure that the machine is
reliable. "I don't know or trust that machine; I've never seen it
before," she said. "I'll be using the lever machine. And I'm not mad
people haven't been told they can use it, because I'd rather have a
longer wait and know that things are accurate than have the line move
more quickly but not know if things are being counted right."

Darlene Johnson, 45, a legal assistant, said she shared Ms. Jackson's
opinion. "My feet and back are telling me to use that machine, but I'm
just nervous about the accuracy," she said, adding that her boss said
to take as much time as she needed to vote. "I've been waiting 3 hours
and 17 minutes. I know people just want to vote, but people might not
use it because they don't trust the system."

In other places, though, disabled voters said they appreciated the
ballot-marking devices.

At Public School 62, in Richmond Hill, Queens, Raymond Baksh, an
unemployed, blind man in his 40s, used the ballot marking device.
Usually, he said, "my dad goes inside and helps me" use the voting

"This year I did it on my own," Mr. Baksh said. "It was easy. It was
more easy this way. If you know Braille, it's easy."

A voice comes on inside a headpiece and instructed him what to do; Mr.
Baksh used Braille to make his selection. After he finished voting, a
scanned ballot came out, which was placed into a ballot box.

In voting without assistance, "you have more privacy," Mr. Baksh said,
declining to say whom he had voted for.

Elena Carpenzano, 29, a student who was working the polls at the school
where Mr. Baksh voted, said she had received training to be able to
show voters how to use the device.


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