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New voting booths to assist handicapped
By Michael Marotta/   Woburn Advocate    November 3, 2005

Woburn has been ed as one of three communities to test a new voting system that enables voters with physical disabilities, visual impairments and literacy challenges to cast their votes.

     Along with Watertown and Waltham, the machines will be field-tested on Tuesday, though only one machine will be available for each ward. But City Clerk Bill Campbell said each machine will be programmed with two ballots for each precinct, and doesn't expect any vote-tallying troubles.

    "The machine is envisioned to help disable voters vote," Campbell said.

     The equipment is being field-tested as part of the procurement process begun by Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin's office in July. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires that each polling place have at least one accessible voting machine for voters with disabilities for the next federal election in November 2006.

     "Having voting equipment that is accessible to voters with disabilities will remove a barrier to ordinary participation in the electoral process by all our registered voters," Galvin said. "I want to emphasize that each of the systems being tested on Nov. 8 provides a paper trail of a voter's ballot."

     Campbell said anyone can try the new machines, but the new system takes longer then the regular method.

     "Voters have a choice, but traditional voting with optical scan is faster," he said.

     The Woburn test will be available in all nine polling places, and is run by e-Slate and manufactured by Hart InterCivic. The eSlate voting system can be viewed online at www.hartic.com.

     Waltham's 16 polling places will be using AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal, manufactured by Elections Systems and Software. In Watertown, AccuVote-TSX, manufactured by Diebold, will be tested in the town's seven polling places.

     Campbell said the experience in Woburn could be a one-shot deal and voters "may never see it again."

     After the election, the secretary's office will one type of equipment that will be purchased for each polling place in the Commonwealth. The contract for the purchase will include warranty, delivery, maintenance, training and additional support.

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