updated 04:50 am EST, Tue November 8, 2011
Oregon offers accessible voting through iPad
Oregon has become the first state to use iPads to help disable voters cast their vote. According to Associated Press, election officials are pioneering the use of the iPad for voting where people who would normally find it difficult to cast their vote using paper. The officials have been piloting the use of the iPads in a primary election to replace former U.S. Rep. David Wu, who recently resigned following a sex scandal.
The county election officials have been taking iPads and printers to parks, nursing homes, community centers and wherever teams can find voters who could use the extra help to cast their vote.
Voters who are vision impaired can adjust the font size, contrast and screen colors to suit their individual needs. The iPad can also be used to read back the names of candidates if necessary, all with or without the help of officials. Once completed, they simply hit print, pop their ballot in an envelope and hand it in.
The system has got the vote of one local resident, Lewis Crews, 75, who suffers from severe arthritis.
"It's a lot simpler for me. I think it's a great setup they got," said Crews. He added, "...now that I've seen how it works I'm confident I can do it on my own."
If the pilot proves successful, the program could be rolled out across Oregon for future general elections. Apple donated five devices for the initial pilot, while the state developed the software for around $75,000. To complete the rollout, the state would need 72 iPads at a total cost of $36,000 plus $50 for each printer, where needed. This compares favorably with the $325,000 the state expended over the past two-year budget cycle on accessibility programs for voting.
Under Federal law, states must provide facilities in order to offer the same access to voting, as well as privacy and independence. The iPad has the potential for states to cost-effectively meet their obligations.