Potential new voting machines help visually impaired community

Potential new voting machines help visually impaired community

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - The Smith County Elections Office is inviting the public to view new voting machines the county is considering to purchase.

"These new machines, the touch screen is a lot easier for the voters and also it gives the voter the opportunity to look at a paper ballot as far as the choices and then look over the choices before they put that ballot card into a precinct counter," Smith County Elections Administrator Karen Nelson said.

The elections office gave us an early look at the new possible voting machines for Smith County. Something the elections administrator said has been a long time coming.

"Well, our current voting machines were purchased in 2005 and so as you can imagine with any technology, you know, we're thirteen years into it," she said.

Some goals for the new machines- efficiency and convenience.

But these machines are bringing back just a little bit more for the visually impaired community.

"To me it brings back a feeling of confidence of when I was a sighted person and I could make my vote," community member, Cathy Hooper said. "This gives me that independence that felt and that ability I had as a sighted person now as a non-sighted person."

Hooper had a chance to try out the new machines.

"I thought it was wonderful, it gave me the ability to do it independently and wearing headphones, [it] let me be able to hear what's on the screen and it gave me the option of darkening the screen so that I can have privacy," she said.

She said these new features are a necessity for people who cannot see.

"Before this option, we would have to depend on a reader, and we would have to hope that the reader is marking the selection that we had made a decision about and this gives us the key word independence," she said.

The new machines will be on display for Smith County voters in the elections office from May 10 through May 18.

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