New technology will increase accessibility for Kelowna voters in the 2011 election.
A voter assist terminal will be offered at the City Hall voting location, open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Nov. 16 to 19.
“Accessibility is important so everyone can have an opportunity to exercise their right to vote,” said chief election officer Karen Needham.
“The voter assist terminal allows voters with disabilities and other special needs to mark their ballot privately and independently; and builds on our other efforts to make voting accessible, such as offering mail-in voting and special voting to those in the hospital and special care facilities.”
All voting locations are also accessible for persons with disabilities and with election officials offering assistance with voting, either within the voting location, or curbside if voters are physically unable to leave their vehicle.
The voter assist terminal does not count or store votes; rather, it is a ballot-marking system designed to provide privacy and accessibility to voters with vision loss, or who have a disability or condition that would make it difficult or impossible to mark a ballot.
Even a temporary condition, such as a broken arm, could make it difficult for a person to mark a ballot.
“An audio function allows the voter to listen through headphones and they can easily choose to repeat the choices, if necessary,” said Needham.
The audio is a synthesized voice that enables the voter to control the speed and volume at which the ballot is read.
The audio function also allows the voter to review a marked ballot after their choices are made by reading it back to them.
On the touch screen, a zoom feature enables the voter to increase the font size as well as adjust the contrast of the screen.
These features may be especially helpful for voters who are sighted but have limited vision or macular degeneration.