FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dianna Smith
Wisconsin Approves the Vote-PAD Assistive Device
Port Ludlow, WA, Wednesday, February 1, 2006. Vote-PAD, Inc. is proud to announce that the Vote-PAD (Voting-on-Paper Assistive Device) has been approved by the Wisconsin State Elections Board for use in hand-counted paper ballot municipalities.
The Vote-PAD is an inexpensive, non-computerized, voter-assist device that helps people with visual or dexterity impairments to independently and privately mark the same paper ballot as other voters. The Vote-PAD was developed to help small towns and counties comply with the accessibility requirement of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002. It allows them to continue administering elections the same way they have in the past.
After meeting with U.S. Department of Justice attorneys, Kevin Kennedy, Executive Director of the Wisconsin State Elections Board, announced the state’s approval of the Vote-PAD. Mr. Kennedy said the attorneys spent considerable time looking at the device and asking questions about its use in the voting process. It was indicated, he said, “that they did not see anything that should stop Wisconsin from proceeding with approval.”
Ellen Theisen, President of Vote-PAD, Inc. and developer of the device, said, “We are delighted! One of our immediate goals was to offer the small Wisconsin municipalities a low cost, low tech, reasonable alternative to electronic voting. This approval is a real win for the small communities and the state of Wisconsin.”
The Vote-PAD has also attracted interest in larger jurisdictions that use optical scanners to count ballots. It was recently purchased by Yolo County, California. See the county’s press release. (http://www.vote-pad.us/Media/HowYoloCitizensWillVote.htm)
Towns and counties all across the country are struggling with how best to meet federal requirements. The law requires each polling place to have a method by which individuals with disabilities can vote unassisted.
As evidence mounts about the failures of computerized voting systems and also the lack of accessibility of many of them, it is difficult for jurisdictions to know where to turn.
“For many jurisdictions, the Vote-PAD provides the most reasonable solution,” Ms. Theisen says. “It is neither a computerized device, nor a voting system. With the Vote-PAD, assistance is simple and direct. It allows individuals to retain the dignity of marking a paper ballot the way other voters do.”
The Vote-PAD, developed in close and continuing consultation with members of the disabilities community, has performed successfully for people with a wide range of disabilities including those with visual or dexterity impairments.