Oregon’s Alternate Format Ballot

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Information Paper December 2007

Subject: AFB (Alternate Format Ballot)

Purpose: The AFB is an alternate format ballot that provides accessibility, via technology, to a printed paper ballot for voters’ with disabilities.

Background: The AFB was conceived and developed as a result of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) that was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2002. Title III, Section 301 (3) requires states to provide: “a voting system that shall be accessible for individuals with disabilities, including nonvisual accessibility for the blind and visually impaired, in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy and independence) as for other voters.”

Oregon is a vote by mail state. That is, every registered voter receives his/her ballot in the mail. Unlike a state with polling places scattered throughout the many voting jurisdictions, the voter in Oregon does not go to the ballot, rather, the ballot goes to the voter. This allows voters in Oregon to vote from the comfort and privacy of their own home or any other place of their choosing.

For some people with disabilities, vote by mail has improved accessibility to the voting process. However, people with disabilities who cannot, for whatever reason, access printed material or do not possess the fine motor skills required to mark a printed ballot, are unable to access the current voting system without assistance.

Therefore, in order for Oregon to meet Title III, Section 301 (3) of HAVA, the task has been to find a voting system that allows people with disabilities who are unable to access the current voting system to be able to receive, mark and return a paper ballot from home.

Solution: People with disabilities unable to access, create or otherwise interact with printed materials often use assistive technology to bridge whatever barrier is present. The AFB capitalizes on this assistive technology in order to provide an alternate format ballot. The AFB is accessed, marked, printed and returned using whatever assistive technology is available to the voter.

What it is: The AFB is created using the same data that is used to create the printed ballots. The data is imported from the Oregon Centralized Voter Registration System Election Module and, using a conversion application, is converted to HTML. The AFB:

What it isn’t: The AFB does not:

Added

Benefits: The AFB also provides quick access to every ballot style in the state for:

Polling

Place Voting: The State plans to contract with a third party vendor to develop, configure (both hardware and software), and install at least one Accessible Computer Station in each election office for voters with disabilities that arrive in the office to vote. The contracted vendor will also provide training to election officials in each county on how to use the ACS. The ACS will include, at minimum, a computer, printer, accessible keyboard, sip-puff module, switches with interface, scanner, screen magnification application, and screen reader application. Counties will also have at least one portable ACS. This will allow bi-partisan voting assistance teams to transport the ACS to voters that are homebound, have transportation barriers, or who may not have access to the necessary technology.

List of AFB Equipment

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Permanent ACS System (minimum 36 needed)

Portable ACS System (minimum 36 needed)

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