Machines make voting accessible

Aug 4, 2022

Filling out a ballot can be difficult — even once you’ve decided who to vote for.
For those who are blind, have Parkinson’s, arthritis or even just forgot their reading glasses at home, it can be hard to read the ballot or accurately mark one’s choices.

That’s why state law requires every polling place to have an accessible ballot-marking machine.

Town Clerk Michele Bissonnette said that while the machines have been at each polling place for the last 15 years, many people don’t know they’re there.

She explained that the machine works by reading the options on the ballot aloud through a pair of headphones and displaying the text at a larger size on the screen. Braille-marked buttons allow voters to select their choice — or choices — for each position. If a voter has selected too few or too many candidates for a position, the machine will alert them.

Once the voter has made their way through the complete ballot, the machine will ask them to confirm their choices.

Then, the machine spits out the ballot with each choice marked.

The machine does not count ballots, it just marks one’s choice. The ballots are then returned and counted as normal.

Two of the machines will be available during early voting for the upcoming primary, which begins on Aug. 27. That’s also the last day to register to vote to participate in the primary, update one’s address or change party affiliation.

Early voting will be held in Town Hall from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27, and during Town Hall business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., from Monday, Aug. 29 through Thursday, Sep. 1. 

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on September 6 for the state primary. On voting day, there will be an accessible voting machine at each polling place. 

To register to vote, go to https://www.sec.state.ma.us/OVR/