Secure the Vote hosts workshop to ensure voter accessibility

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – People across the state have been casting their ballots early using Georgia’s new voting system. Wednesday, “Secure the Vote” hosts an event to make sure the new process is accessible for every voter.

Voters with fine motor/gross motor disabilities or visual impairment can try the new secure paper ballot system at L.I.F.E. Inc. from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Wednesday. “Secure the Vote,” an education initiative by the Secretary of the State’s Office, is hosting the event.

“Casting your vote is a time to have your voice heard,” said Barry Helmey who lives with Cerebral Palsy.

The voters who attended this workshop face a range of physical challenges, but just like anyone else, they want a say in the fate of this country.

Sharyl Sutton with the Secretary of State’s office lead the training. She explained to a room full of anxious voters that the new system has the ability to adapt to their needs.

“You know if it’s something new you got to know how it works number one, number two what the accessibility features are, and number three if there are more than one accessibility features,” said Teresa Brenner, who suffers from Stargardt disease.

People like Brenner who have trouble seeing are provided with headphones and handheld controllers to navigate their voting options. She said she attended this workshop for one reason.

“Basically to make sure it’s going to work for everybody that wants to vote independently,” said Brenner.

The workshop was made possible by two local organizations; Living Independence For Everyone Inc. (LIFE) and the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision.

Neil Ligon is the Executive Director of Life Inc. he hopes this workshop will lead to a smoother, more accessible voting process for all.

“Hopefully today our consumers have gotten a little more comfortable with the voting machines and learned a little bit more about what’s going on,” said Ligon. “Perhaps even provided some feedback for them so they can do some training with respect to poll workers moving forward in the election.”

The new voting system is the first of its kind. It features accessibility devices like hand-held controllers, sip and puff devices, and paddle devices that will let voters navigate through his or her ballot. Each system will also have headphones, large print, and high or low contrast display options.

The presidential primary in Georgia is on March 24. Ligon said if you encounter any issues on election day to contact the Secretary of State’s Office.

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