New machines offer freedom to blind voters |

New machines offer freedom to blind voters

by Geoff Dornan

Among the most ardent supporters of new electronic, touch-screen voting machines are the visually impaired.

Jim Dickson, vice president of the American Association of People with Disabilities, said the machines will allow even someone who is totally blind to vote without help for the first time.

“I’ve been voting for 36 years,” said Dickson. “I voted on the Sequoia system in Washington, D.C., and for the first time in my life I voted in secrecy.”

That is one of the advantages Carson City Clerk Alan Glover touted for the new machines as well. He said in the past either a spouse or an election official has had to help the visually impaired vote.

“This lets them vote in secret,” he said.

Ronda Moore, deputy secretary of state for elections, described the system as “awesome.”

She said it’s also available to those who can’t read an English ballot, to Spanish speakers who are more comfortable hearing than trying to read the ballot and to speakers of American Indian languages that don’t have a written form.

Dickson said some one who is blind can walk through the entire ballot using a simple four-button keypad and the machine will announce the names of the candidates and tell the voter who he or she has selected in each race, then review the entire ballot so the voter knows exactly who he selected.

“It’s extremely cool and extremely important for people who have disabilities that make it difficult to read,” he said. “What Nevada is doing is good for the state, not just for people with disabilities.”

Contact Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.