The state will debut new voting devices during the June primaries that will make it easier for voters with disabilities to cast secret ballot. The ExpressVote system has a video display screen and built-in ballot printer. It’s both audio and visual, allowing a voter to make selections by touching the screen or using a controller that has different-shaped colored buttons with Braille labels. Before this new device was chosen by the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions, towns used a phone line that allows voters with disabilities to listen to an audio ballot and select the choices by pressing a button. A few hundred voters used those devices, according to Julie Flynn, deputy secretary of state. She hopes the ExpressVote system will attract many more potential voters. “I think it’s more intuitive,” she said. “I don’t think it takes as much instruction as the one we had.”
The new system was chosen by a team that included Elections Division staff, municipal clerks and advocates for people with disabilities. Voters with disabilities also volunteered to test the technology and give feedback.
Flynn said her office would begin training towns on the devices during the primaries, but a major push will come as the November election draws closer. She said the state will do some outreach with disability groups this summer as well. The new system will be available at all polling places.