Assistive voting technology

Someone listens to candidate names when voting with the AutoMARK.

As part of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), new Assistive Voting Technology (AVT) allows voters with disabilities to vote independently and privately.

In Minnetonka and across the state, the certified AVT is a ballot-marking device called the ES&S AutoMARK, which marks the voter’s paper ballot via touch screen, touch pad or sip/puff tube. All ballots voted in Hennepin County during the 2008 election, whether the voter uses a pen or the new ballot marking device, will be inserted in the precinct ballot counters that have been used in the county since 2000. The state of Minnesota requires that all elections have a paper ballot as a “paper trail” for election recounts.

Read on for more information about the AutoMARK equipment.

Who will use the AutoMARK equipment?
The AutoMARK is designed to assist voters with disabilities to mark their ballots privately and independently as required by federal law. Generally, voters who are blind or visually impaired, or who have physical or mobility difficulties, will benefit from the assistance this machine provides when marking ballots.
Why does the city need this new equipment?
In 2002, the federal government passed a law called the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) that changed the standards for voting systems in the nation. The city’s current M100 optical scan ballot tabulators do not independently meet the new accessibility voting guidelines required under HAVA. The M100 does not allow individuals with, but not limited to, sight and mobility limitations, to vote privately and independently. With the AutoMARK, the city’s voting equipment will meet the accessibility requirements of HAVA.
What voting equipment will tally the vote?
The city of Minnetonka will use the same voting equipment, the M100, as used in years past. This is an optical scan tabulator that counts and records the votes cast on all ballots.
What does the other voting equipment do?
The AutoMARK is a machine that meets the accessibility requirements of the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The AutoMARK is a ballot-marking machine that does not count or tabulate the ballots. Ballots marked with the AutoMARK must then be inserted into the M100 optical scan voting machine that records all votes cast.
Will there be a paper trail?
Yes, a paper trail is required of any voting system used in Minnesota. A person using the AutoMARK uses the same ballot as any other voter. The device only marks the ballot. The ballot is inserted into the M100, which tabulates it with all of the other cast ballots. The paper ballot is the paper trail.
If I have a disability, are there any assistive devices I should bring to the polling place for use with the new machine?
Yes. Although the city will provide headphones for the AutoMARK machine, voters are also welcome to bring their own headphones, sip and puff, or other devices.
Will there be assistance on Election Day with the new machines?
Yes. Election judges will provide assistance at the polling places. In addition, city election officials will be available to offer assistance on how to use the machines.