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New ADA Voting System Awaits Lee County Budget Approval

Tara Calligan
Mary Ann Grignon, President of the Southwest Florida Council of the Blind, uses the ExpressVote machine.

Correction: The Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office says the iVotronic Voting system is ADA compliant however in 2007 the state legislature stopped the public use of that system and only allowed them to be used for the disabled. However they now being replaced because they are old and not user friendly.

A new voting system allows voters with disabilities to cast their ballots anonymously and without help. The Lee County Elections Office held a demonstration recently revealing the ExpressVote universal voting system.

Florida statutes require the current touch screen voting devices to be replaced by 2020. Lee County wants them replaced by the 2016 Presidential election. Its Supervisor of Elections seeks $715,000 in funding this fall to have them up and running by then.

ExpressVote is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, complete with features like a 15-inch touch screen display, sound, text, contrast adjustment and a braille keypad for easy screen navigation for the blind.

Lee County Election Supervisor Sharon Harrington said the current 13-year-old iVotronic machines, which are not ADA compliant, need to be replaced sooner rather than later.

“Do we really want to wait until 2020 to replace the iVtronics that are difficult to use and do not adequately meet the needs of our voters with disabilities?” said Harrington. “I don’t think so. I think we would like to see a lot of improvement before the 2016 election.”

She said the current machines are hard for people with disabilities to use because they do not have adjustable features like the ExpressVote, and voters using the newer machines can make the changes without any help.

Credit Tara Calligan
ExpressVote Machine

Mary Ann Grignon, President of the Southwest Florida Council of the Blind, said voting independently would be incredible. 

“I always tell people, you just cannot imagine how good it feels to have control of something independently rather than to have, always the same thing, ‘let’s see who I can get to help me fill this out,’ you know?” said Grignon.

“So this is just wonderful. It gives us all that we need to have this experience. I feel that we found the right system, and now let’s just convince the officials that we’re worth spending the money on.”

Harrington said the ExpressVote machines will decrease voter wait times and could bring more voters to the polls. She said she hopes the county will approve the money required to buy 175 machines and train staff and volunteers. The budget deadline is October 1, 2015.