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Handicapped Accessible Voting Machines Demonstrated

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego County Board of Elections unveiled new, handicapped accessible, voting machines at ARISE last week.

The machines are designed to be used by people with physical disabilities and will be available for registered voters at polling places in Oswego County on Primary Day, Sept. 9, and Election Day, Nov. 4.

Jeremy Hanlon takes part in a recent demonstration of voting machines that are able to accommodate those who may be hearing or visually impaired as well as those who aren’t able to use their hands.
Jeremy Hanlon takes part in a recent demonstration of voting machines that are able to accommodate those who may be hearing or visually impaired as well as those who aren’t able to use their hands.

The ballot marking device was demonstrated at the Fulton ARISE office, 113 Schuyler St., Suite 1, on Tuesday and the Oswego ARISE office, 9 Fourth Ave., Wednesday.

The third demonstration was held at the Pulaski ARISE office, H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse, 2 Broad St., Thursday.

ARISE (Advocacy Resources Information Services Education) is a non-profit agency whose purpose is to increase the independence and community integration of people with any type of disability through the provision of advocacy and a range of services.

The machines are able to accommodate those who may be hearing or visually impaired as well as those who aren’t able to use their hands, according to the election commissioners.

The new machine is much easier to use than the conventional machines currently in use said Jim Cronk, a peer advocate with ARISE.

“This is much easier. They are easy to use,” he said Wednesday. “It’s like anything new. It takes time to adjust to it.”

The new machines are set up to accommodate people with a variety of disabilities.

It gives the disabled voters to ensure they are casting a secret ballot, just like everyone else, said Sabine Ingerson, director of ARISE.

Voters use headphones to listen to the choices of candidates and voting instructions to ensure privacy.

“This really gives you the opportunity to cast a secret ballot,” she said.

After the votes are cast, a tally sheet is printed out one end of the machine and goes into a folder. A poll worker brings the sheet back to the front of the machine and feeds it into a reader.

Rhiannon Mulverhill of ARISE took part in one of the demonstrations.

“It was pretty easy, it promoted you right along through the entire process,” she said. “I think it’s going to be really wonderful. I will make voting much easier on a lot of people.”

“It was very easy to use, once you get used to it,” agreed Jeremy Hanlon, who is blind. “You have practice with it, but after you are familiar with it it’s as easy as pie!”

The automated instructions are clear and easy to follow, he added.

Hanlon was unable to vote using the conventional lever machines.

He would have to have a family member go with him and he would tell them which lever to pull.

“So basically, I had to trust somebody else that they were pulling the lever for the selection that I wanted,” he explained. “I honestly believe this will revolutionize voting for the disabled. Now the disable, especially the visually impaired, will be able with this machine to make their own decisions about who to vote for; it’s in private, we don’t have to trust somebody else. They can be confident that the vote that they cast was actually for the person they wanted to vote for.”

Born 25 weeks early, he has never been able to see like a normal person.

Being visually impaired hasn’t held him back.

In high school, he took part in Blind Awareness, working with elementary students in Leighton and Minetto elementary schools to teach others about what it’s like to be visually impaired.

He also was a Reading Buddy for kindergarten students.

He is still working toward his goal, to get a job in the communications field, in radio.

For more information, call the Oswego County Board of Elections at 349-8350 or 349-8351, or the Oswego ARISE office at 342-4088.