A bit in this article about the challenges of accessible voting for the disabledcaught my eye.
At the polls, visually impaired voters will now have access to magnifiers and voting screens that let in more light, as well as previously available resources like braille candidate lists and templates that, theoretically, allow a person to mark their own ballot.
But disability rights activist David Lepofsky said the tools fall short, since users will still have to seek sighted help to see if the ballot is properly aligned within the template. Past elections, he said, have consistently been marred by half-baked solutions.
“The ability to mark the ballot has several components: independently marking your own ballot in private, and being able to verify that you marked it correctly,” he said. “Everything that’s out there falls short.”
Lepofsky hopes Elections Canada will one day join more than 40 Canadian municipalities and offer the ability to vote over the Internet, but spokeswoman Diane Benson says the logistical and security challenges of such a project mean it’s not currently under consideration.
The same goes for the use of accessible voting machines that allow blind voters to listen to a ballot and mark their choices alone. A 2010 report says the machines were given a limited test but later abandoned because they were impractical.
I have questions.
1. Braille candidate lists were previously available? That’s news to me. the only Braille seemingly within a thousand miles of any polling station I’ve ever been to is the numbers that run down the side of that metal template.
2. Given that they’ve been used in multiple provincial and municipal elections to my knowledge without incident, what exactly is impractical about the accessible voting machines? Sure they take a couple of minutes to get going, but unless I’ve missed a major disaster, I can’t figure out how waiting for one of those things to boot up is less practical than me walking into my polling station, encountering a clerk who looks at me like a deer in the headlights who’s just met someone from Mars and then has to confer with everybody else in that thousand mile Braille free radius before rummaging through the depths of a never entered closet to hopefully find that old thingamadoodle with the bumps on it. I’ve been lined up, verified, voted and gone in elections with those machines in as much or less time than that process takes.
Internet voting would be fantastic and I’m sure one day it’s going to be a thing, but I totally understand the security concerns involved there. Absolutely everything online is a vulnerability just waiting to happen, and when you’re dealing with something as important as fundamental rights it needs to be done as close to perfectly as is possible. But this voting machine thing, man. I’m just not feeling it. I’d really like some clear, reasonable answers. If we’re all getting screwed at the local and provincial levels, I’d like to know so we can get on people right now about fixing that for 2018.