[tabi] Re: No reason not to vote

  • From: "Lynn Evans" <evans-lynn@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 25 Aug 2010 14:57:32 -0400

Sorry Barbara I don't have the two reports I heard; one on the radio WFSU and the other WTLH-TV 27 it think.

What GREAT coverage!!!!

I used a machine yesterday at noon time. I was the first in my precinct to usle it that day.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Lighthouse of the Big Bend" <lighthousebigbend@xxxxxxxxx>
To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2010 1:58 PM
Subject: [tabi] Re: No reason not to vote

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!


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

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

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.


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

Posted: 9:26 PM Aug 19, 2010 Reporter: Lanetra Bennett Email Address:

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
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