Mar 07, 2007
New ADA-Compliant Equipment For Elections Department
New Computerized Ballot System with Touch-Screen Technology to Aid Disabled Voters
SOMERVILLE – Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and Election Commission Chairman Nicholas Salerno today announced the implementation of new computerized ballot systems to aid disabled voters at Somerville polling places. The new “AutoMark” system, created by Election Systems & Software (ES&S), includes voice and touch-screen technology, allowing voters of all ages and physical abilities easier access and personal assistance when casting ballots at the polls.
“This is the first major change for Somerville voters since our switch from hand-cranked machines to the electronic ‘Eagle’ machines to count ballots,” Salerno said. “We’re implementing this technology to provide equal access to all voters along with more precise ballot-counting. ES&S has already provided us with the Eagles, but we have been anticipating the arrival of these machines for a while now, to ensure compliance with the national Help America Vote Act of 2002. I’m delighted that we are finally able to provide accessible service to all of our residents.” Salerno added that the new machines created a printed optical scan ballot that was recorded in the same way as regular ballots. “All of our paper trail and verification procedures are maintained with this system,” Salerno said.
The AutoMark system combines a number of technological advancements to make ballot casting easier for disabled voters. For those with visual impairments, headsets and spoken instructions along with Braille keypads allow patrons to vote privately with minimal assistance from poll staffers. By inserting a ballot into the computer and selecting candidates on the screen, ballots are cast identically to regular ballots, with the aid of special infrared ink.
AutoMark uses zoom features, for those who may have difficulty reading small print on ballots, and touch-screen capabilities for voters with arthritis who cannot easily use writing implements. After reviewing choices and casting votes, a ballot is printed in seconds, and is easily read by the Eagle machines in order to count ballots.
“AutoMark allows a whole host of people to use the system,” said ES&S Sales Manager Robb McGinnis. “As of right now, there are very few people with disabilities who come to precincts to cast votes. Hopefully the implementation of these machines will increase voter turnout, but they can also be used by anyone and everyone who may wish to do so.”
“I’m delighted to see the Elections Department implement this new, state-of-the-art equipment,” said Director of Personnel Richard Tranfaglia. “As ADA Coordinator, I can tell you we have eagerly awaited its arrival, and we will begin training elections officials immediately in order to have the machines ready by the April 10th special primary election.”
For more information, please contact Election Commission Chairman Nicholas Salerno at 617-625-6600, ext. 4210.
At left, Elections Department employee Sarah Dinan practices voting using the new AutoMark ballot system during the departmental training on Friday, March 2nd. At right, the new AutoMark system is pictured.