I voted today - I got Inspired
I did vote today, but this post is not about Who I voted for or Why. This is about How I voted.
I had heard about a new way of voting for people who are blind or visually-impaired, so I decided I would try it out today at my local polling place. The system is called Inspire Vote-by-Phone, and it's the first time I've seen it used in my town.
The people running the system seemed to know what they were doing - they said they tested it yesterday - and said I was the first one to use it today. The operator gave me the headset, dialed a number, punched in their access code, and the process started. It took about 12 minutes (there were 11 offices on the ballot). The offices and candidates were spoken, and after each I was asked to press a number on the telephone keypad. The spoken voice was clear and easy to understand, and spoke at just the right speed - for me anyway. The keypad had large buttons with large numbers, and appeared to be Braille embossed as well.
When I was done, I hung up and about a minute later a fax came through with my choices printed out. The operator showed it to me and asked if it was right, and then placed it in the file drawer where they were storing completed absentee ballots. From what I understand, if I could not read the fax, they are supposed to scan it and then it would be read to me by the scanner. They did not offer me this option.
All in all, it seemed to work well, but I do have some suggestions for improvement. The system should offer the voter the option of saying the number, instead of just pressing the number, like a lot of IVR systems do these days. The area where the system was set up was not private or enclosed, and everyone walking into the high school gym where I voted was able to see me. And the fax should have been immediately read into the scanner for my confirmation, instead of being shown to me. I do live in a small town, and I had the uneasy feeling that my privacy could have been compromised.
I also think, in time, that this is an process that can and should be available on the web, to make it accessible to all kinds of people.