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Newer assisted voter technology in Bonneville, Caribou counties

eSlate helping the visually impaired

BONNEVILLE COUNTY, Idaho (KIFK/KIDK) - There are many challenges for disabled people when it comes to voting, but new assisted technology is giving them a chance to share their voices by taking some of the difficulties out of it.

ESlate is one of the newer voter technologies helping disabled people. One of the older systems called AutoMARK, is still being widely used.

Bonneville and Caribou Counties are the only counties in the entire gem state that have the eSlate system. For Bonneville County, eSlate was purchased with the new voting systems they bought back in 2013. The county felt this technology was more user-friendly for many different types of disabilities.

"This device can actually be used if people, you know are quadriplegic, for example. They can use a sip-and-puff device with it -- they have to supply their own. But there are other options for people that way," said Bonneville County clerk Penny Manning. "It was purchased hand-in-hand with our new voting system that we purchased back in 2013. We had the option of staying with the old system that we used as far as for disabled voting, but we chose to go with this new system. We felt like the technology was more user-friendly. We're excited about it."

ESlate is the newest assisted voter technology out there with wheels, buttons, braille, and audio with headphones.

"It was so simple and so easy. I never knew why I didn't try it before in the last election. I felt a little intimidated, you know, because I haven't been able to learn braille that well," said Sean Malone, a visually impaired voter.

Whether you know braille or not, this device is easy to use -- especially with the headphones and audio options.

"It's simpler than the old auto mark system that they have, because bringing in eSlate they try to keep updated with the technology and this is the most advanced one," said Malone.

"The one's we've been using in the state of Idaho are still being used widely throughout the state, but because this particular unit was compatible with the new software and hardware that we bought to process the rest of our ballots, we felt like this was a good fit for Bonneville County," said Manning.

ESlate will have voters go through audio options corresponding to the ballot. The voter will click and spin depending on their vote. The audio will ask the voter multiple times to be sure of their choices. Lastly, a printer will print a physical copy of the ballot in case the electronic vote is lost.

"I would stress to anybody that is hesitant to vote that's blind or visually impaired out there -- especially in the Bonneville County area -- to get in and vote and use these machines," said Malone.

The eSlate voting machine is available in all precincts in Bonneville County.


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