Starting next week, island residents can begin in-office voting. And for the first time, the Guam Election Commission will be utilizing a new machine that will help voters with disabilities vote independent and privately. “It’s a long time coming and to finally have it here on Guam, it’s overwhelming,” expressed Mangilao resident Gerard Cruz may be blind, but this coming election, he’s looking forward to casting his vote. “Freedom – that’s the only way I can describe it to come in to vote independently and privately on my own without the assistance of somebody reading to me the ballot and then marking it down for me, I can do everything on my own as I did when I was sighted before.”
Cruz will be using Election System & Software’s AutoMark system, recently obtained by the GEC. Executive director Maria Pangelinan brought the machines over from the Commonwealth Election Commission in Saipan, saying, “This AutoMark will be used for the first time on Guam and it will allow the person with disability or who is visually impaired to vote independently and privately.”
Only one machine is in operation at this time, but the GEC is working to repair more soon. Pangelinan says the machine is fairly easy to use, explaining, “Of course, there’s a ear piece so they can hear, to the side of it as well is our buttons with Braille on it, so people who cannot read brail, can still vote, as they listen, the machine will give directions on when to press buttons and which buttons to press.”
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