Wednesday, Aug 15, 2018
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Politics

Lucas County to improve voting access for disabled residents

Lucas County officials will soon purchase new voting software, allowing those with disabilities better access to absentee ballots.

The Board of Elections received a state grant of about $20,600 to implement a remote ballot marking system. County commissioners at their Tuesday meeting approved accepting the funds.

This software allows voters with disability, such as visual impairment, to mark their absentee ballots from a home computer. It can read the ballot to them and present it in a better contrast, Board of Elections Director LaVera Scott said.

Voters will still have to request the absentee ballot through application, but the office will contact them with information. This will not allow for online voting, she said.

“They will be able to mark their ballot, print their ballot, and mail it back to us,” Ms. Scott said.

Ms. Scott said she believes the state grant will cover initial costs for two to three years. She expects the program to be in place by September under a state directive. The board is presently reviewing vendors, she said.

Ms. Scott said she is pleased these offerings are catching up with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“I hope that people realize that the opportunity is there, the means are there, the support is there, the assistance is there. There's no reason why you should not be able to cast your ballot,” Ms. Scott said.

Secretary of State Jon Husted sent a directive in January to all 88 county boards of elections outlining the software. The state intends to provide a total $1.5 million in grants that assist all counties with initial costs.

Technology has caught up with the intent of ballot access, state spokesman Sam Rossi said.

“It's to make elections more accessible and more fair,” Mr. Rossi said.

Contact Ryan Dunn at rdunn@theblade.com, 419-724-6095, or on Twitter @RDunnBlade.

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