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2002 Voting Systems Accessibility Standards David Baquis, U.S. Access Board. Elections Accessibility Conference Friday, February 20, 2004 Trenton, New Jersey. Scope of Topic. Scope of the Voting Systems Standards (VSS) should not be confused with the scope of the HAVA Law

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2002 voting systems accessibility standards david baquis u s access board l.jpg

2002 Voting Systems Accessibility Standards David Baquis, U.S. Access Board

Elections Accessibility Conference

Friday, February 20, 2004

Trenton, New Jersey


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Scope of Topic

  • Scope of the Voting Systems Standards (VSS) should not be confused with the scope of the HAVA Law

  • These standards focus on the devices used for voting, not the polling place program or architectural accessibility

  • At this time, a voting system refers to a voting machine such as a DRE, but the language could cover new and emerging technologies


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Why Accessible Voting Systems?

  • According to NOD, approximately 40 million people with disabilities are of voting age.

  • According to a Harris Poll, approx 41% of people with disabilities voted in the 2000 Presidential election. (Compared with 51% of all adults.)

  • Most voting systems have been inaccessible to people with disabilities. These systems include: punch card, lever, optical scanner, and paper ballot.

  • In 2000, approx 1% of voting systems were DREs (computer systems – disability friendly)


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Barriers for People with Disabilities

  • According to a GAO report (10/01), 84% of polling places across the country were found to have a barrier that prevents a person with a disability from voting.

  • HAVA addresses the needs of physical, sensory and mental disabilities. It specifically mentions visual disability. Typical examples of challenges with voting systems have included:

    • Strength needed to operate mechanical controls

    • Dexterity needed to write

    • Sight needed to input information and verify a vote

    • Limited reach ranges for wheelchair users


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Role of the Access Board in VSS

  • Voting Systems Standards were issued by the Federal Elections Commission in April 2002

  • Access Board provided informal guidance to the FEC during the development of the standards.

  • Access Board submitted public comments and testified before the FEC during a hearing.

  • Access Board continues to provide technical assistance on the interpretation of the standards.


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Technology-specificAccess Board Experience

  • In addition to standards and guidelines for the built environment, the Access Board issues standards and guidelines for technology.

  • Specifically, it issued Guidelines for design of telecommunications products and services under Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996;

  • And it issued Standards for procurement of accessible electronic and information technology to help Federal agencies comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.


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Accessibility Considerations Specific to VSS Development

  • Voters will not be expected to bring assistive technology with them to polling places and install them on machines.

  • Voters will have limited time during which to learn how to use the voting machines.

  • Voters will not be expected to remember how to operate the machine from one year to the next.


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Examples of VSS Accessibility Provisions

  • Audio version of ballot content

  • Response time

  • Touchscreens and mechanically operated keys

  • Volume control

  • Color/contrast settings

  • Hearing aid compatibility

  • Forward, high and downward reach

  • Secondary means of voter authentication


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Use of the VSS

  • The FEC VSS voluntary guidelines do not become standards unless the states require them as such.

  • The independent testing authorities (ITAs) are expected to use the 2002 VSS when evaluating voting systems. They have a standing invitation to meet with the Access Board.

  • The manufacturers are using the 2002 VSS in the design of new voting systems. However, they are faced with designing to both the FEC guidelines and state-specific requirements.


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Emerging Issues

  • The Elections Assistance Commission has the authority to issue new VSS. That work would begin with the EAC Technical Guidelines Development Committee and could take a while.

  • The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) is in the process of developing engineering consensus standards for accessibility and usability of voting systems. This should not be confused with a “government” policy standard. It could be used as a basis for development of amended EAC VSS.


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What Can You Do?

  • Comply with requirement for one accessible voting system per polling place by 1996

  • Include information about accessible voting machines in information dissemination to all stakeholders including people with disabilities

  • Include information about accessible voting machines in training to all stakeholders including elections officials and poll workers

  • Inquire whether technical assistance provide by disability groups and enforcement provided by P&A will consider voting systems access.


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Access Board role with the EAC

  • 2 members to serve on the Board of Advisors. Of the 37 members listed, we are the only federal agency represented that has a full-time mission dedicated to serving the needs of people with disabilities.

  • 2 members to serve on the Technical Guidelines Development Committee.


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Helpful Federal Agency Websites

  • Access Board:

    • http://www.access-board.gov

    • 800-872-2253 (voice) or 800-993-2822 (TTY)

  • http://fecweb1.fec.gov/hava/hava.htm

    (Federal Elections Commission)

  • http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/add/HAVA.htm

    (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

  • http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/hava/hava.html (U.S. Department of Justice)


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