Oklahoma voters with visual impairments will be able to cast ballots independently and privately this year for the first time in a presidential election. The state’s new voting machines incorporate an audio aid that guides blind voters through the various ballot choices. Once selections have been made, the audio device summarizes the selections made and provides voters an opportunity to change their choices before the ballot is cast. Jane Thomas, a social worker at the Oklahoma School for the Blind, said students who participated Wednesday in a mock election encountered “some glitches.” But for the most part, Thomas said the technology incorporated this year with the state’s new voting machines is “wonderful.”
“This is a very big thing: It is the first time we have able to vote independently and privately,” Thomas said Wednesday as students at Oklahoma’s School for the Blind tried out the devices during a mock election. “We can go in and vote without assistance and cast our votes in private.”
Brittany Donley, a 17-year-old OSB student from Cache, lamented the fact she won’t turn 18 until a month after the upcoming election but said the technological advances in voting is “pretty cool.” Donley said she experienced no problems while casting her first ballot during Wednesday’s mock election. Thomas, however, said the process is time consuming. It took Donley about 10 minutes to navigate through her choices in six contests on the mock election ballot. Thomas said it could take up to 30 minutes for a voter using the audio interface to cast a ballot in the Nov. 6 election because of the large number of races and state questions.