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Another Sad Story of Voting "Accessibility"
VotersUnite Exclusive Report

February 8, 2008, by Noel Runyan

Another sad story is from a voter who lives in the Sacramento area and is blind. She was in an AutoMARK precinct. To start with, the pollworker wouldn't help the voter find the right area to sign in the book. After someone else stepped up and helped, the pollworker tried to excuse herself by saying, "Well, my hands are very cold, so I didn't want to touch her." When the blind voter asked to use the voting machine, the pollworker told her she couldn't "because it's broken" and "your friend here can just fill out the ballot for you."

When the voter asked if she could go somewhere else to vote, the pollworker said, "No, because you would have to vote provisionally, and that wouldn't count."

The voter's friend asked what was wrong with the voting machine and was told that the paper was all stuck in the bottom of the machine (of an Automark?...sure.).

The voter and friend pushed a bit more and the pollworker finally let them try out the AutoMARK, which came up fine, with no paper problem. Then the pollworker started asking questions like, "English or Spanish?", and the voter said that she'd like to make the choices herself and asked for the headphones. The pollworker was shocked, saying, "You mean you want to listen with the audio?". After returning with the headphones, the pollworker remained at the voter's shoulder, as if she expected to be making the touch screen selections for the voter (who had the nerve to want to listen as she did). The voter turned off the screen and the pollworker got all indignant, calling out to the other pollworkers, "She turned off the screen on me! My, aren't we secretive around here?"

After that, the voter voted on the AutoMARK by herself and had no problems with the machine.

In this case, the problem was not with the voting machine at all, but instead it was with improper pollworker screening/selection and apparent lack of proper pollworker training.

How much of this do you think was do to the move up of the primary, which resulted in shorter time for pollworker recruitment and training?


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