National Federation of the Blind Endorses Online Ballot Marking

Accessible online ballot marking provided by Everyone Counts gives visually impaired voters ability to cast secure, secret ballot

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) issued a resolution urging states that have UOCAVA online ballot-marking systems to make those systems accessible and to extend their use to voters with disabilities; and for all remaining states and territories to implement these same systems.

Currently, most absentee voting in the United States is paper based and non-accessible to voters with a variety of disabilities. Accessibility in U.S. voting systems has been exclusively focused on the polling place, requiring all voters with disabilities to physically go to a polling place to receive these benefits. However, as more states allow for no-excuse absentee voting and with more voters taking advantage of it, the NFB wants to make sure that voters with disabilities are no longer singled out from being able to access this convenience due to the implementation of paper ballots for absentee voting.

Online ballot-marking is accessible absentee voting, it provides voters with disabilities the option to mark their ballots on their smartphone, tablets and computers using the same assistive devices and tools that they use to navigate the web throughout their daily lives. The ballot then gets printed on paper and returned via mail, the same way as in current paper ballot absentee processes. The only accessibility.

Everyone Counts’ electronic ballot delivery system, eLect®, provides a higher level of accessibility to voting than paper ballots, allowing voters with disabilities to use assistive technology, including screen reading software, print reading hardware and voice recognition software. Our system was developed by working with both accessibility experts and election officials responsible for accommodating voters with disabilities in order to deploy an internet voting solution that is WGAC 2.0 Level AA compliant and can be used by any web browser connected to the Internet. Voters marking a ballot at home on a web-based solution will be using their own assistive tools, not a predetermined type provided at a poll station.

Everyone Counts believes that everyone who has the right to vote, should be able to vote, and supports the National Federation of the Blind and their resolution to help voters with disabilities have the same ability to vote absentee as other voters.

Resolution 2014-17

Regarding Accessible Online Ballot-Marking Systems

WHEREAS, the right to cast a secret and anonymous ballot is a cornerstone of our democracy that enables citizens to vote their conscience without fear; and

WHEREAS, the passage of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) has enabled the majority of blind voters and many others with disabilities to exercise their right to vote privately and independently at polling places; and

WHEREAS, the accessible voting machines typically found in polling places do not have the capability to allow some voters with disabilities, such as the deaf-blind, to exercise their right to vote privately and independently as guaranteed by HAVA; and

WHEREAS, accessible online ballot-marking systems will enable many voters who cannot currently cast a secret ballot, such as the deaf-blind, to vote privately and independently using their own personal access technology; and

WHEREAS, seventeen states (Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin) and counties in California and Florida have implemented online ballot-marking systems that enable voters to access and mark their ballot online and then email or print and mail the ballot to their local board of elections, demonstrating that these systems can be made secure; and

WHEREAS, only Alaska, Delaware, Utah, and Washington extend the use of their online ballot-marking systems to voters with disabilities; Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2014, in the city of Orlando, Florida, that this organization strongly urge the thirteen states that have online ballot-marking systems, but do not make them available to voters with disabilities, to make their systems accessible and to extend their use to voters with disabilities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Federation of the Blind strongly urges all remaining states and territories to implement accessible online ballot-marking systems and to make these systems available to voters with disabilities so that all citizens can exercise their right to cast a secret ballot.

Mark Riccobono, President
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