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Ballot Marking Devices

It is important to provide accessibility to disabled voters when using paper ballots. Ballot marking devices allow disabled persons to vote independently, and can be easily used in conjunction with precinct-count optical scan machines.

Ballot marking devices provide accessibility features for standard optical scan ballots such as:


  • Touch screens (with magnified font option for reading-impaired voters)
  • Sip and puff interface (for quadriplegic voters)
  • Audio ballots (for blind & language impaired)
  • Support for multiple foreign languages

Each voter uses the accessibility interface they need to mark the paper ballot. For example, an audio interface can read the ballot to a blind or visually-impaired voter wearing headphones, and accept the voter's input for each race. It then prints the voter's choices on the standard optical scan ballot which was inserted at the beginning of the process.

Vision-impaired individuals can use the ballot-marking device to verify their ballots. When a completed ballot is inserted, the machine reads the ballot and either displays it on the screen in an enlarged font, or provides an audio description of the votes through the headphones.

Ballot marking devices provide over-vote and under-vote protection, thus ensuring that the optical scan ballot completed on behalf of any voter is correctly filled in. Any optical scan ballot completed by the ballot-marking device will be readily accepted by the precinct-count optical scanner.

Ballot marking devices do not record or count votes electronically, they only mark a paper ballot for the voter. In essence, they are a “computerized marking pen”. The votes are recorded on a standard optical scan ballot, and the completed ballot is read by precinct-based optical scanner.

Ballot marking devices do nothing more than assist voters in completing their optical scan paper ballots. They essentially replace a human assistant, who compromises ballot secrecy, with an automated assistant, which does not compromise that secrecy. Unlike DRE voting machines, the ballot marking devices do not store any electronic ballots nor count any votes. Accordingly, they avoid most of the authentication, security, and auditability issues associated with DRE voting machines.

An example of a ballot marking device is the Vogue AutoMARK.

Return to the Paper Ballots for NY home page

Note - Pictured above is the Vogue Automark ballot marker. It is used here for illustration purposes, and does not constitute an endorsement of this particular product or manufacturer.


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