Voters with disabilities will no longer, in the words of Secretary of State Denise Merrill, be forced to use “the clunky old system” when voting on Nov. 8. On Monday, Merrill and advocates for the disabled showed off the state’s new $1.5 million, state-of-the-art computerized system that will allow Connecticut’s disabled voters to first vote, and then print their ballots. “I am very excited about this,’’ Merrill said. “It is a real improvement over our old system. The beauty of it is people with disabilities will be able to vote just like everyone else.’’ The new stand-alone, tablet-based system requires no telephone or internet service and is intended to be adaptable to a variety of assistive technologies. The tablet system is a ballot-marking device that replaces the previous phone-fax technology. The previous system required poll workers to use a designated telephone with a secure, pre-registered number. Voters were then given a telephone handset after the calls were answered by a computer system that provided an audio ballot. Once the call ended, the ballot was faxed to the polling place.
Faxed ballots differed in appearance from ballots used by other voters, and thus were identifiable, potentially violating the privacy of the voters with disabilities that had used the system. Under the new system, the ballots of individuals with disabilities are fed through the same tabulators that count the ballots that are manually completed by other voters at the polling place.
… The new system, chosen through a competitive bidding process, will be provided by Inspire Voting System LLC. The tablet system will be available at polling places in every town in Connecticut. The president of the ballot-marking device system, Yung Nguyen, of IVS, gave a demonstration of the system, which allows users to either hit computer keys or use voice commands to vote for candidates, before printing out the results that will be handed to election moderators.