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Technological glitch kept me from voting

Last modified: 6/30/2012 12:00:00 AM
I wish to comment on my experience in using New Hampshire's Accessible Voting System. I have been legally blind for 45 years. My first opportunity to vote in a federal election using the telephone/fax system was in 2008.

The telephone/fax equipment allowed me to vote privately and independently, for the first time in my life, at Ward 7 in Concord. The fax ballot could not be counted electronically and was placed in a side box to be counted manually. I have concern about how confidential my ballot was with so few individuals using the accessible voting system. What we want is a secret ballot!

My second opportunity to vote using the telephone/fax system was in the primary election held Jan. 10, 2012. The Accessible Voting System was not working, and I had to leave without voting. I'd had to arrange for a ride to the polling booth, and I took time from work to vote. I was very disappointed and felt let down.

The federal government provided millions of dollars to New Hampshire to put in place an Accessible Voting System that would allow a person who is blind to vote independently and privately. It is apparent that the current system has failed.

My concerns are:

• The telephone/fax system chosen was a cost-effective decision; however, more advanced technology was available at the time.

• Concerns that the polling booth volunteers were not ready for advanced technology influenced the final decision to go with the telephone/ fax system. Why were the recommendations of the disabled not given a priority?

• Education and training is needed and should be required by poll workers It is not clear how much funding has been spent to date and how much funding is left to spend. The New Hampshire secretary of state issued an RFP in May 2010 for the orientation and training project. This was never awarded.

A plan to update the accessible voting system should be put in place as soon as possible. There needs to be someone accountable for making it right. Dominion Voting Systems, a Canadian company, has an accessible voting machine that is certified and produces a secret ballot.

Web-based marking tools are being used for overseas voting and are secure. Perhaps this is the future. I want the opportunity to vote independently and have a secret ballot.

(Guy Woodland is senior vice president of the New Hampshire Association for the Blind, based in Concord.)


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