We’re less than a year away until the 2016 primary election, and the Guam Election Commission is taking steps to ensure every voter including individuals with disabilities can cast their vote independently with the use of new technology. While they continue to make progress, the GEC is still not fully compliant with federal accessibility requirements. “We have assistive technology packets throughout all the 21 polling places at every precinct, but we still don’t, if a person who cannot see, comes into vote, they still cannot vote independently,” said executive director Maria Pangelinan. She says that may change as the commission is currently looking into using a new ballot marking device to help people cast their vote privately and independently. It’s called the Election Systems & Software’s AutoMark system.
“It has universal access where persons with disabilities are able to vote independently,” Pangelinan explained. “In the past, our persons with disabilities for those who cannot see, they will have to have people assist them when they vote.”
The device has been around for years, but will be a new addition for voters on Guam. The system providers autonomy to voters who are blind, visually impaired or have a disability or condition that makes it difficult to traditionally mark a ballot. It features an audio function where you can hear the list of candidates, a zoom feature where you increase font size and has a “sip/puff tube” for voters who are unable to touch the screen.