A purchase approved Thursday by the Cape Girardeau County Commission will allow visually impaired voters a little more autonomy when it comes to casting ballots. Starting with April’s election, the county’s accessible voting units will have larger screens — 15 by 15 inches versus the 7-by-3-inch screens currently in use. County Clerk Kara Clark Summers said the larger screens were not available when the county originally purchased accessible voting equipment. The requirements included in the Help America Vote Act of 2002 were the kick-start that brought such equipment to many counties, including Cape Girardeau.
While the update to the larger devices is not required, Clark Summers said offering them is an important step in providing equal election services to all voters. The smaller screens can be difficult to read, she said, and if there’s a long question on the ballot, it doesn’t fit the screen.
Four of the larger devices — which also feature headphones for an audio option, a keypad and the ability to enlarge fonts on the screen — were purchased last year to determine how well they could assist voters in need.
Clark Summers has met with the River City Workers for the Blind to demonstrate the voting machines and said the reaction from the group was positive.