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E-Voting: Boon Or Bane for the Blind?

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Headlined to H3 11/5/08

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As a blind voter, I have never been able to take the right to vote privately
and independently for granted.  Since the inception of e-voting in
Philadelphia, with each election has come new challenges.  Today's voting
experience was certainly no exception.

Hoping to avoid long lines, and wanting to be considerate of other voters, I
decided to vote at approximately 10:00 this morning.  When I reached the
poll, I discovered that the component for the voting machine for people with
disabilities was not available in my polling place.  The Judge of Elections
was apologetic, saying that she had called City Hall repeatedly in order to
obtain the necessary component.  She took my contact information, and
ensured me that she would let me know when I would be able to vote.

I went back to my apartment and made a series of calls.  In addition to
contacting the various national hotlines, I contacted several offices in
Philadelphia's City Hall, finally reaching the Assistant Commissioner's
Office.  I was assured that the necessary equipment would be available at my
polling place within an hour and a half.  Just as I was about to call the
office to inform them that the component had not yet arrived, I received a
call informing me that I could return to the polling place to vote.  I was
able to vote with very little difficulty.

I was fortunate that my story ended so favorably.  Other blind people with
whom I spoke today did not have the same resolution.  One blind couple with
whom I spoke told me that they finally had to receive assistance from a poll
worker.  This poll worker was almost illiterate; he couldn't even pronounce
Obama correctly and they were not sure if he knew what he was doing.

E-voting was supposed to have been the boon for the blind.  We were led to
believe that, Direct Recording Electronic machines would make it possible
for us to vote privately and independently, and that we would also be able
to verify our vote.  In reality, not only have these machines created
problems for non-disabled voters, but they have served to dash the hopes of
all of us who have worked so hard to make it possible for voters with
disabilities to independently exercise our right to vote.  Now, blind and
sighted voters alike, have encountered the experience of not knowing whether
our votes have been counted as they have been cast.  Together, we must all
work to ensure that all of us can exercise our right to vote privately and
independently, and than have the ability to verify that our votes have been
cast according to our preferences.

 

Suzanne Erb has established herself as a unique presence in Philadelphia. Blind since birth, she has refused to allow any thought of disability to hinder either her career or personal life. Ms. Erb has held a variety of jobs of increasing (more...)
 
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E-Voting: Boon Or Bane for the Blind?


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