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Citizens With Disabilities - Ontario
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Accessible Voting-- Are We Ready?

Each time we go to the polls in Canada we like to think that we are doing a better job of making our democratic process fully accessible to all Canadians. On October 10, 2007 Ontario will be at the ballot box once more, and we all need to be very aware of barriers no matter how small that may deter a frail senior or person with a disability from voting.

In the United States, the self-anointed authority on all things democratic, they are having a very difficult time in getting it right. The use of electronic polling terminals was thought to be the solution, but it turns out to be a very great problem.

Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines were once considered essential to ensuring private and independent voting booth access for voters with disabilities; but a new study shows they often do not work as promised.

Authored by access technology expert Noel Runyan "A Report on the Technology for Accessible Voting Systems" shows that, due to inadequate or malfunctioning voting machines, voters with disabilities are frequently forced to ask for assistance or compromise the privacy of their vote.

The report details significant difficulties for voters with disabilities including:

Runyan, who is blind, is a professional electrical engineer who has spent much of his career developing access technologies for people with visual impairments. "Even with my technical background and the help of poll workers, I could not get the Sequoia Edge II DRE to work. I have since tested most of the available voting systems at conferences and at the National Federation of the Blind's accessible voting systems lab, and my fears have been confirmed: Most of the DREs deployed were not designed with real disability access in mind."

For more information or to download a copy of the "Improving Access to Voting" report, visit www.demos.org or www.voteraction.org tact information above.

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