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Madison area blind woman could not fill out her own ballot because of malfunctioning machine (WI)

WKOWTV    28 October 2008

MADISON (WKOW) Like everyone else at the Madison City Clerk's Office Monday, Lorry Bond waited an hour and a half to cast her ballot early.

But unlike everyone else, she wasn't able to vote on her own.

When she tried voting on the only automark machine at the clerks office, the machine was giving her an error message.

Then when that was fixed, her ballot wouldn't print.

Bond was told the machine was out of ink.

At that point, Bond had to ask someone to fill out her ballot for her, which is allowed by Wisconsin law.

"They can have someone assist them in marking the ballot and chose who they would like to assist them, they can bring their grandchild or a friend," says City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl.

Assuming she was going to vote independently, Bond didn't bring anyone with her and had to tell a city worker who she was voting for.

"I didn't know who the guy was, how was I suppose to know if he was going to mark it the way I told him because I couldn't see the ballot," Bond says.

The Dane County Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind says they have received at least two other calls from voters who experienced the same thing.

They have contacted the Madison City Clerk's Office and the Wisconsin Elections Board to make sure what happened to Bond doesn't happen to anyone else.

"What we want to happen is we want blind people and others with disabilities to have the same rights as everyone else, to cast a ballot in private and independently," says Chapter President Charles Buggs.

The madison City Clerk's Office says if she wants to, Bond can go to a regular polling place on election day, explain her situation to an election official and vote again, which would cancel out her previous absentee vote.

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