By Randy Pierce
Have you ever wondered how a blind person votes? In the past, it has been more challenged than most would prefer. It has generally resulted in me, my dog guide, a volunteer to record my vote and a witness all climbing into one of those small booths together. Often they were wonderfully patient, open-minded and non-judgmental people with whom I had the good fortune to share the details of my voting choices… but not always. There was also a former phone/fax system installed in the polling locations which failed at an alarming rate.
But new this year is the “One4All” voting system which showed considerable promise in the primaries and is now ready for its full debut in our November elections. Let me make it clear for all my NH community, visually impaired or not: this new accessible method of voting needs as many testers as possible. I am inviting all of you to take whatever voting choices you have and enact them on the same voting system I’ve been asked to use.
The New Hampshire Association for the Blind wrote an excellent piece about it which I recommend for those wanting more information. They also created an introductory training video for those wanting to be a bit more prepared for the experience ahead:
In a highly contentious time, I’m proud to suggest the opportunity for each of us to be guaranteed to vote together in a comfortable solidarity. This system needs to be tested by use. It needs feedback from those who can see where it struggles and those of us entirely trapped by the auditory aspects it provides.
It may take you an extra moment or two at the polls, but if nobody is in that line, perhaps you’d consider giving it a try and ensuring the staff gets a little extra opportunity to test their equipment and that proper feedback can be provided going forward. Tell them you have a friend who is blind and has struggled at times with polling equipment and locations, and has friends who have heard enough horror stories they are intimidated to even attempt it until they hear enough good stories.
Wouldn’t it be comforting to be confident you are part of at least one good story this election cycle?