Disabled Utah voters are asking the state for e-voting
Blind Utahns and disability advocates are asking for more access to digital ballots after running into trouble at polling places.
Driving the news: Utah's primaries are set for Tuesday. Leading up to them, blind Utahns only have two ways to cast ballots.
- They can vote by mail with another person's assistance, which means they can't vote in secret.
- Or they can go to a polling place for an audio ballot — but navigating there may be difficult.
I encountered Everette Bacon at Trolley Square Wednesday. Everette is blind, and he was searching for the early voting center with the help of a camera-enabled guide service on his phone.
It did not go well.
Zoom in: Bacon arrived at Trolley Square when the polling site opened at 3pm, but signs pointing to the voting machines weren't yet posted.
- His guide service directed him down almost every corridor of the mall for 40 minutes before he found the voting center.
What's next: Bacon's quest for the polling place was filmed by the Utah-based Disability Law Center, which is asking the state Legislature to approve funding for and access to e-voting for Utahns who can’t privately fill out a printed ballot.
- Only Summit and Utah counties currently provide digital ballots to blind voters, said Sheri Newton, a voting-rights specialist with the law center.
- The center plans to send the video to lawmakers and clerks across the state.
A half-hour into his journey, Bacon returned to the mall's east entrance, where his phone camera panned over a "Vote Here" sign that a poll worker had taped on the doors sometime after Bacon had first arrived.
- Speaking on the phone to his perplexed guide, Bacon asked: "Should I just stop at these doors and … see?"
What happened: Bacon did cast a ballot (once the poll workers figured out how to operate the audio machine).
- In total, he said, "It took an hour. It should have taken 5 minutes."
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