Board of Elections takes step to make voting more accessible


By Cecilia Fox - cfox@troydailynews.com



MIAMI COUNTY — At their meeting Tuesday, the Miami County Board of Elections voted to move forward with an accessible electronic ballot marking tool.

The tool, offered by TRIAD Governmental Systems, is designed to make absentee voting more accessible to blind voters and can be used with screen readers. Voters will be able to request ballots online, which will be emailed to them to be printed, filled out, and mailed back to the board of elections.

Earlier this year, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted issued a directive saying blind voters must be able to cast absentee ballots privately and independently, following a lawsuit brought by the National Federation of the Blind.

“It’s something we have to have,” Board of Elections Chairman Dave Fisher said.

The tool is sold as a one-time setup cost, which for Miami County is $6,152 and includes the November 2018 election. After that, the county will pay for the ballots for each election. The proposed cost for a countywide general election is $1,142, said Jose Trejo with TRIAD Governmental Systems, who spoke at the board meeting Tuesday.

Trejo said sample ballots are already uploaded to the board’s website prior to each election; the new system will convert those PDF files into device compatible HTML files.

“If I was a handicapped individual and I have a reader and I go to your website and try to read your PDF ballots, it doesn’t work,” he said.

The system will then generate the electronic ballots that voters will be able to request online and have emailed to them.

Board member Audrey Gillespie said she still wanted to receive answers to questions posed by a disability advocacy group, which include whether or not the has system been tested with a variety of devices, which disability groups have tested the system, and if the system has been deployed for an election yet.

By Cecilia Fox

cfox@troydailynews.com

Reach Cecilia Fox at cfox@troydailynews.com.

Reach Cecilia Fox at cfox@troydailynews.com.