Accessible Voting Worked for Me, I Think

It was a fine warm fall day for voting with an overhang of smoke from controlled burns in nearby forests.

After an earlier trial demo and a mixed experience in the September primary, I felt geared up for the mechanics of voting independently in this penultimate election of my lifetime. Ending a year of political junkiness and some serious conversations with “Jack the Dog Walker” on state ballot initiatives, I knew my choices.

Then I spoke those words that so shake up the poll workers at the Yavapai County early voting office — “I need Audio voting”. With white cane for identity, I waited patiently while the exceptional procedures sprung into action. Given head phones and number key pad and a chair, the poll worker returned my ID and inserted the card to rev up the premiere Election Systems workstation. Ominously, the audio did not work. Reset. Whoops, audio but no keypad response. Move over one workstation and I was finally in business with instructions coming through the head phones and my brain fighting to cancel out the surrounding noise of the other voters in the office lobby alcove.

I was truly awe struck at the announcement of the office Presidential Electors, forgetting momentarily the key to press to actually cast this important vote. Then I got into the rhythm – 6 for next, 5 to vote, 4 for back. This ballot’s interaction was easier than the primary which required more confirmation and interaction to move among races. Each race and contestants or YES/NO answers were clearly announced. However, a 7 to cancel a vote also slowed the voice, in contrast to the disconcerting speech speedup I experienced in September. This round I understood the sample ballot and could predict how far to go. Reading the ballot for confirmation, a 9 key pressed, the clatter of the printer and I was done. I thanked the poll worker for competantly handling this exceptional Vision Loser.

Whether my vote is actually counted accurately is a whole different matter, something the U.S. must fix if it cares for democracy as much as for marketplace ideology. Exhilarated from my independent action, I trekked on down town for lunch near the famous Prescott Territorial Court House. Now, about those accessible street crossing signals — well, “adopt an intersection” is next of the agenda of this Vision Loser Voter.

Uh, oh, just when I thought I was safe from campaigning, comes a warning about Monday night scenic opportunity using the Court House Plaza prop. Sigh…

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Author: slger

Susan L. Gerhart (slger) is a retired computer scientist. Her professional specialities included software engineering research, technology transfer management, and computer science education, see SLGer's Research Autobiography. Susan is active in a lifelong learning institute (OLLI) at Yavapai College in Prescott Arizona. She has facilitated courses on podcasts, Twitter, the Singularity, and climate fiction. "As Your World Changes" blog describes her journey with vision loss into the spectacular world of assistive technology and the frustrating practices of accessibility. She writes with the NVDA screen reader, reads books from Bookshare on a BookSense, and listens to podcasts on an iPhone. slger123 on Twitter records her favorite articles and occasional comments on life and politics. Creative writing courses led her to undertake "A Chip On Her Shoulder", a novel asking the questions: "how did we get into the privacy mess of modern social media?" and "Are we now just 'packets of data formerly known as people'?" Contact: slger123 at

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