The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Services for Blind Persons today reminds Michigan voters with visual disabilities of accommodations available at the state’s polling sites that ensures their equal access to vote on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8, 2016.
“It is important that every registered voter have access to exercise their right to vote. I encourage persons who are blind and visually impaired to cast their ballot this election season,” said Bureau of Services for Blind Persons Director William Robinson. “I also would like to thank the Secretary of State and local clerks for the accommodations available for our consumers.”
Robinson, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, along with clerks in precincts throughout the state want to ensure that members of Michigan’s disability community know they can cast a private and independent vote using the same ballot as every other Michigan voter.
“Michigan has made a strong commitment to empowering all citizens to cast a ballot independently and privately,” Johnson said. “I thank all the clerks across the state for the work they do to help ensure polling places are fully accessible for voters with disabilities.”
Voters with a physical disability, who are blind or visually impaired, or otherwise unable to mark a ballot in the usual way have access to the AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal. The AutoMARK operates like an electronic ink pen – it marks a paper ballot with the voter’s choices. The ballot is then deposited in the tabulator like all other ballots and counted using Michigan’s optical scan tabulator.
The AutoMARK features a touch screen and a keypad marked with Braille; voters may use their personal sip-puff device, a stylus or a hand or foot paddle to mark their ballots, and magnification and contrast features on the screen. The AutoMARK is wheelchair-accessible and is equipped with headphones with an audio function so that voters may hear the ballot read aloud.
To ensure accessibility, federal and state laws require polling places in Michigan’s cities, townships and villages provide a reasonable number of accessible registration facilities and remove or make accommodations for any barriers that prevent voters with disabilities from voting. Doors should not be blocked, alternatives to stairs such as ramps or elevators should be available and lighting and seating should be adequate. At least one voting station per polling location should be adapted to allow a person to vote while seated.
Voters with disabilities who require assistance in casting a ballot may receive assistance from another person, provided the person assisting the voter is not the voter’s employer, agent of that employer or an officer or agent of a union to which the voter belongs.
Hearing impaired residents with questions may contact the Department of State’s Bureau of Elections by email at email@example.com.
Voters must be residents of Michigan and registered to vote in their city, township or village. Voters who cannot vote without assistance at the polls may vote by absentee ballot.
Voters who cast a ballot on Election Day at the polls must fulfill Michigan’s voter identification requirement which can be met in two ways: 1) by showing acceptable ID, such as a Michigan driver’s license, personal ID card or other another ID document; or 2) by signing an affidavit stating they are not in possession of ID. To check their registration status, residents may visit the Michigan Voter Information Center at www.Michigan.gov/vote. On the website, residents can view a sample ballot, find their polling location, learn about absentee voting, get information on Michigan’s voter ID laws and view contact information for their local clerk.
Voters can learn more about the AutoMARK equipment by visiting the Voting Equipment page, or by visiting the Michigan Voter Information Center website, where people also can find contact information for their local clerk’s office.
The Bureau of Services for Blind Persons (BSBP) in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) provides training and other services for individuals who are blind or visually impaired to achieve employment and/or independence in the careers of their choice. For more information about BSBP, visit www.michigan.gov/bsbp or call toll-free: voice 800-292-4200; TTY 888-864-1212.
For more information about LARA, please visit www.michigan.gov/lara
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