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Machines help aid in voting

Rachel Taylor, a member of the Covington Blind and Low Vision Outreach group, examines how to use the AutoMARK machine. | Kendra Bolling/Star-News

Oftentimes people with disabilities are hesitant to vote, and that’s why one local group is working to get the word about a useful tool to help aid in the voting process.

Thursday, the Covington Blind and Low Vision Outreach group invited Probate Judge Ben Bowden and staff to discuss and demonstrate the AutoMARK machine, which is designed to help those with disabilities, have an independent voting experience.

The machine will be is available at all polling places in the county on Election Day, Tues., June 1, Bowden said.

The use of this machine is required by federal law, specifically the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

“Most (people with disabilities) don’t use (the machine) because they are afraid,” said Wanda Scroggins, president of the outreach group.

“There are one-in-10 legally blind individuals in Andalusia.”

It is a simple process to vote using the machine. Just like traditional-style voting, the voter must declare which party – either Democrat or Republican; and then insert the ballot into the machine.

The machine reads aloud the candidates one by one for each position, and tells how many candidate choices are available for each position.

Make a mistake? There’s no need to worry, before actually casting the vote, the machine gives a summary of the choices made, and the voter can submit changes, if needed, before casting the vote.

Every effort is made to help protect the privacy of the voter, and machines are placed in locations where the user will have a private voting experience.

“It’s hard to know of any other right that we have that is as fundamental is voting,” Scroggins said. “Everyone – disabled or not – should exercise that right.”