DRP Files Administrative Complaints to Assist Blind Voter in Bucks County in Voting Privately and Independently
On behalf of a blind voter in Bucks County, DRP filed complaints under the Help America Vote Act against the Pennsylvania Department of State and the Bucks County Board of Elections, seeking to remedy problems with accessible voting machines and poll worker training that prevented the voter from voting privately and independently. For the June 2020 primary election, Bucks County had implemented a new voting system that was supposed to allow blind and visually impaired voters to use a ballot marking tool with audio instructions to complete and print ballots. The voters would then insert their ballots into a ballot scanner, which was supposed to audibly alert the voter as to whether the ballot was accepted.
The voter in Bucks County encountered a number of problems that impacted the privacy of her vote. First, the voter was not provided with a privacy sheet to cover her marked ballot. Second, the audio instructions from the accessible machine stopped before the final screen on the voting machine, which forced the voter to rely on a sighted poll worker to assist her with completing and printing her ballot. Third, the ballot scanner did not audibly notify the voter as to whether her ballot was accepted. As a result, the voter had to rely on a sighted poll worker to read the monitor.
Following the filing of the complaints by DRP, the County tested the accessible voting machine and confirmed that it provided audio instructions throughout the entire voting process. The County also agreed to have technicians available on election day to promptly address any issues with the accessible machines. In addition, the County agreed to train Judges of Elections on procedures to ensure that voters with vision disabilities could vote privately and independently.
As a result, the voter was able to vote privately and independently in the November 2020 general election.