Thanks Lynn, let's hear it for public awareness! AND we just got a phone call from a person who is totally blind, who had never heard of the machines... and because of the news stories voted independently for the FIRST TIME EVER yesterday - hooray! The Tallahassee Democrat, NPR, WCTV6 & WTXL27 were all at the Lighthouse covering the voting machine story – two of the stories are below. I couldn’t find the one one WTXL or NPR, so if you have them – please send them! http://www.tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=20108200330 Visually impaired, blind practice voting By Amanda Curcio • DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER • Published: August 20, 2010 Her guide-dog by her side, Linda Jones, 63, selected Abraham Lincoln in a mock election Thursday designed to help people with disabilities use touchscreen voting machines. Jones and other visually impaired residents tried out the voting machines at Lighthouse of the Big Bend, a nonprofit that helps guide people through vision loss. The machines were supplied by the Leon County Supervisor of Elections. Jones, who is blind, said she gradually began to lose her sight, and by 1976, she could no longer read a traditional ballot. She would vote with the help of her father or husband, but both had passed away by 2000. After that, she had to vote with representatives of both the Republican and Democratic parties. "They were always nice," she recalled. "But it's my right to vote in private, and I couldn't exercise that right." That changed in 2002, when Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, which required all voting locations in the country to have voting machines that could be used by people with disabilities. In 2006, the county spent about $800,000 to buy 140 Diebold audio-assisted touchscreen voting machines, said Janet Olin, assistant supervisor of elections. After that, Jones was finally able to vote independently. "I felt like a bird out of a cage," she said. "There's a dignity factor in all this. Before it was, 'You're not as important, and we don't have voting machines for you.' Now, I feel empowered." Jones reported appreciating the machine's adjustable settings. Voters can opt to use the touchscreen by itself, both the touchscreen and audio assistance or audio assistance only. Voters can use headphones, follow verbal cues and use a telephone-styled keypad to cast votes. The print can be magnified as well. Not many people use the specialized voting machines, but the Supervisor of Elections Office is hoping more people will take advantage of the technology. Only six people have used the machines since early voting started last week. Thomas James, election-systems manager, said he hopes the demonstration at the Lighthouse will make voters who need assistance feel more comfortable. "We've sent out more invitations to use the machines than ever before," he said. "We're hoping to get the word out. The more time there is to practice, the more likely they will become comfortable with voting." In the 2008 general election, 6,921 voters in Florida used an audio-assisted touchscreen machine, said Jennifer K. Davis, a spokeswoman for the Florida Division of Elections. Four-hundred of them were Leon County residents. All voters can use the machines provided there are no impaired voters waiting to vote, Davis said. Residents also registered to vote during the demonstration. Michael Flemming, 17, a junior at Leon High, registered to vote for the first time. He turns 18 in September, and he will be able to vote in November. Flemming said he enjoyed practicing to vote on the machines, but that he was even more excited "to vote for real" in November. http://www.wctv.tv/home/headlines/101127639.html Residents Test Voting Machines for the Blind Residents who are visually impaired or blind got the chance to test drive the disability voting machines for the upcoming primary election. Posted: 9:26 PM Aug 19, 2010 Reporter: Lanetra Bennett Email Address: lanetra.bennett@xxxxxxx Those who are blind or visually impaired call it a level playing field. Residents tested out audio voting machines that allow them to be independent when marking their choice on election day. Tallahassee resident Lynda Jones may need her seeing-eye dog to walk to the polls. But, she no longer needs anyone marking her voting ballots once she's there. "To me, it's like a bird being let out of its cage." Jones said. Jones is completely blind. Thursday, she got a chance to test out Leon County's Dominion TSX touchscreen disability audio voting machines. Jones said, "It's wonderful as far as I'm concerned. I feel that the people who have provided this have said, yes, you have the same rights that I have as a sighted person." For residents who are blind or visually impaired, all they have to do is put on headphones, follow the verbal cues, and then use a keypad to punch in the candidate of their choice, and their vote is counted. The screen on the machines can also be magnified for those who need larger print. Arlen Schwerin is visually impaired. He said, "The instructions were very clear and obviously there weren't very many buttons to press. It was very easy to use." Before the accessible voting machines were available, people who could not see the ballot had to be accompanied by two poll workers--one from each party. But, with the machines, Jones says, "It gives us back our dignity." Jones says with a sense of independence, the machines allow them to truly exercise their right to vote. One of the machines will be present at each of Leon County's 103 polling locations on primary election day, August 24th. On 8/19/10, Lynn Evans <evans-lynn@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote: > Now I see Linda Jones and the Lighthouse was on channel 27 cable 7 this > evening close to 6 PM. > > Way to go! > ----- Original Message ----- > From: Lynn Evans > To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx > Sent: Thursday, August 19, 2010 5:16 PM > Subject: [tabi] No reason not to vote > > > I just heard on WFSU radio at 4:05 PM a report on the accessible voting > machines again will be available this coming Tuesday at the poles. > > > > Linda Jones of Lighthouse of the Big Bend got in a few words about the > accessible voting machines. > -- Lighthouse of the Big Bend Guiding People Through Vision Loss 3071 Highland Oaks Terrace Tallahassee, FL 32301 (850) 942-3658 www.lighthousebigbend.org Check out the TABI resource web page at http://acorange.home.comcast.net/TABI and please make suggestions for new material. if you'd like to unsubscribe you can do so through the freelists.org web interface, or by sending an email to the address tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject.