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Norine Dworkin

Orange County demos assistive voting machines

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Norine Dworkin

Friday, September 17, 2021

Founding Editor

This week (Sept. 13-20) is National Disability Voter Registration Week. As part of its efforts to make voting accessible to all Orange County voters, the Supervisor of Elections office held a demonstration Thursday of its Express Vote technology, which assists disabled voters in filling out ballots. Ballots are then fed into the vote tabulation machines to be counted.

The demonstration and tandem registration drive was held at the Center for Independent Living (CIL) in Winter Park. Attendees were encouraged to try out the equipment themselves “so they’re not intimidated when they go to vote in person,” said Danae Rivera-Marasco, communications and community outreach coordinator with the Orange County Supervisor of Elections.

Express Vote has audio, braille and touch-screen options and uses a different type of ballot that is distributed once a voter has checked in to a polling place.

“There are a lot of people with disabilities who, even if they are registered, don’t end of voting because they’re afraid of not being able to or not knowing how to,” said Chance Morrow, marketing and public relations manager for the Center for Independent Living. “Hopefully people will get more comfortable with the idea of voting today.”

Assistive voting technology has been available in some form across the country as part of the 2002 Help America Vote Act, according to Marisa Crispell, voter services director for the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office.

Every Orange County Election Day polling location and early voting site, including those in Winter Garden, Ocoee, Oakland and Windermere, will have at least one Express Vote machine along with poll workers trained to use the technology.

“We have specific poll worker positions that are trained in how to use the Express Vote equipment and how to show the equipment to a voter that may need it so that they would be comfortable using it,” said  Rivera-Marasco.

Morrow added that CIL has also been tasked with doing additional “disability sensitivity training” with every poll worker, even if all they’re doing is greeting voters. “We do our best to educate people that there are a lot of people with disabilities, even if you can’t see them.”

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