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Accessible voting gives voters with disabilities a choice

by Steven Gilbert | October 17th, 2012

The Secretary of State’s passion is for equal access for all of our state’s voters.  That vision includes helping voters with disabilities.

Washington’s voter accessibility project is aimed at assisting voters who have a disability to participate to the maximum extent they are able. The program is paid for by a federal grant through the Help America Vote Act.

Thanks to this project, every county now has at least one site with special voting equipment called Accessible Voting Units (AVUs) for individuals with disabilities who can’t use vote-by-mail paper ballots. These special units give voters the ability to listen to the ballot choices with headphones and they include a keypad helpful for voters with visual, cognitive or learning disabilities. For people who use wheelchairs, AVU height can be adjusted and most also have an insert device for people who use sip and puff auxiliary aids.

Washington state has an 18-day voting period starting on Oct. 19 when AVUs are available for this fall’s General Election. Your county has at least one Accessible County Election Center where AVUs can be found, often located in the county courthouse or the county elections department building.

Our Elections staff have been working to help launch the voters with disabilities page on the Secretary of State’s website.  The page provides thorough information on accessible voting units, voters’ pamphlets, assistance voting, and accessibility concerns along with additional information for voters with disabilities.  Check it out here.


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The Washington Office of the Secretary of State’s blog provides from-the-source information about important state news and public services. This space acts as a bridge between the public and Secretary Kim Wyman and her staff, and we invite you to contribute often to the conversation here.

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