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Options at the polls for voters with disabilities

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. – ABC57 looked into what accommodations are available for voters with disabilities in St. Joseph County.

This year for early voting, the county utilized new voting machines for voters who are blind, deaf, or have other disabilities.

“On those new machines there’s also ADA compliant headphone and puffer, they’re all set up,” County Clerk Terri Rethlake explained.

For voters who are confined to their home, the travel board makes sure their voice counts.

“Nursing home, hospital, whatever it might be. If they can’t get to the polls, they ask for an application for a ballot, we send a team. It would be a democrat and republican would go to wherever they are at, and we would vote them right there,” Absentee Voting Clerk Laurie Seifer explained the program.

But, on Election Day it’s important to know options for voters with disabilities will be different.

“We are not using the new equipment, that was just for early voting,” said Rethlake.

Precincts will utilize equipment that has been used since 2002 for voters with disabilities.

“It will be the same M100’s and the same paper ballots that have the circles have to be colored in. And there is the auto-mark there that has been there in previous elections,” the county Clerk said.

The county says that there was not enough money to fund fully fund this election with new, expensive equipment.

“We decided that we would try it with early voting first and see how it went, and everyone was pretty receptive to the new machines and how easy they were to use,” explained Rethlake. “Hopefully next year the council can see or find some way to fund it for the precincts.”

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