PRESS RELEASE from Vermont Secretary of State

For Immediate Release:
Date:  February 19, 2008

Contact:  Ginny Colbert
(802) 828-2148


 Vermont’s Voters May Cast Presidential Primary Vote Using the Vote-by-Phone Technology at the Polls

 Vermont’s Vote-by-Phone at the Polls option provides privacy and independence to Vermonters with disabilities

 Montpelier – This presidential primary every Vermont polling place will be equipped with an option for Vermonters who have difficulties filling out a paper ballot.  Using Vote-by-Phone technology, voters who have a hard time marking a paper ballot, especially those who are visually impaired, will be able to use the telephone keypad to mark their presidential primary ballots.

Secretary of State Deb Markowitz said, “In Vermont there are an estimated 83,000 voting age citizens who live with disabilities; 3,000 of them are legally blind.  The Vote-by-Phone voting system is accessible and easy to use.”

The Vote-by-Phone system reads the ballot to the voter, who indicates his or her choices by pressing the corresponding numbers on the telephone key pad.  The system then generates a paper ballot, scans it and reads it back to the voter so that he or she may verify that the ballot is correct before casting it.  Markowitz said, “Any Vermonter who is interested in using Vote-By-Phone at the polls simply tells the election worker they wish to use the system.  The election worker will connect the voter to the system and will then pass the handset or headset to the voter who will use the phone to mark his or her ballot privately and independently.”  Markowitz added, “Poll workers have been advised that they may not ask whether the voter is disabled, and indeed, any Vermonter may choose to use the telephone voting system.”

Voters with disabilities who choose not to use the Vote-by-Phone (at the polls) voting system have many other choices that are designed to make voting easy and convenient:

·         Voters may request that the town clerk send them an early absentee ballot and, once completed, the ballot can be returned by mail or by a person of their choice.

·         Voters who are sick or disabled may request that the town clerk send two justices of the peace to deliver a ballot to them on or before Election Day.

·         A voter may ask a person of their choice, or may ask two election workers, for assistance in reading and/or marking their ballot.

·         A voter who is unable to come into the polling place because of an illness or disability may ask that two election workers bring a ballot out to their car for voting on Election Day.

Any person who wishes to try out the Vote-by-Phone system may practice from their home any time prior to Election Day by calling, toll free, 866-486-3838.  Markowitz said, “We encourage voters to try out this new voting system before coming to vote on Election Day because we believe it will ensure that they are comfortable with the system prior to casting their vote.”