New devices for voters with disabilities available at all CT polls Nov. 8

Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill recently announced that new technology will be available at the polls to help voters with disabilities, protecting their identity and making the process easier in the upcoming presidential election. The technology consists of a tablet with headphones that has ballot-marking capabilities and will be available at every polling place in Connecticut as well as in the place for Election Day Registration.  (Martin Voltri/Flickr Creative Commons)

Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill recently announced that new technology will be available at the polls to help voters with disabilities, protecting their identity and making the process easier in the upcoming presidential election, according to a press release.

“We know that people with disabilities are some of Connecticut’s most active and engaged citizens and that they will be a force in this year’s presidential election. We want to make sure that when they turn out to vote this November, they have the most high-tech services available,” Secretary Merrill said in the release.

Gretchen Knauff from the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities said in a phone interview that the technology would protect the democratic process.

The new technology consists of a tablet with headphones that has ballot-marking capabilities, and replaces the old phone-faxing method. The devices will be used at every polling place in Connecticut as well as in the place for Election Day Registration, according to the release.

In the past, voters complained about the old method because it produced different ballots that could not be read by the machine that read the regular ballots, exposing the privacy of those voters, according to the release.

“The regular ballots, you fill in bubbles like on the SATs, and the old method of phone faxing method produced ballots that could not be read by the same machine,” Knauff said.

The different color ballots were then counted by hand.

With the new devices, voters will be able to touch the screen on the tablet, or use the audio system that requires the voter to follow audio cues and push buttons on the keypad accordingly.

Voters will be able to review their choices and after that process is done, the device will mark a ballot with the desired choice. The ballot that is produced can be fed through the same machine as regular ballots.

The bid was won by IVS LL., a company that specializes in accessible voter technology. A representative from the company was not available for comment at the time of this publication.

For voters who have used the vote-by-phone method in the past, the process will be the same, except now the ballot will be laser-printed instead of faxed.

“The law requires that every registered voter have an opportunity to vote independently and in privacy at a polling place, regardless of disability,” Knauff said in a press release.

Assistance will be provided if the voter feels like they need someone while casting their vote.

Every polling place also has “A Poll Worker’s Guide to Assisting Voters with Disabilities in Connecticut,” to help voters in different situations such as how to provide assistance, guidance, resources and more.


Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at daniela.marulanda@uconn.edu.