Leaders In the Disability Rights Community Call Electronic Ballot Systems "Inappropriate for Use."

March 15, 2007

Seattle, WA- A statement prepared by Noel Runyan and endorsed by a growing number of signatories shows that many in the disabilities community oppose the use of Direct Record Electronic (DRE) voting systems, thus challenging the claim that this constituency supports DREs.

"A few outspoken individuals and organizations within the disability rights community have lobbied hard for voting systems that record votes electronically. Those of us who believe that election systems must ensure both accessibility and security have, as I have discovered, felt isolated and discouraged from publicly stating our position," said Mr. Runyan, an accessibility expert and leader in the blindness community.

"This statement corrects the common misconception that people with disabilities don't care if elections are fair, as long as we get to vote," he added.

The statement declares: "It is now clear that in order to guarantee reliability and security in our elections, it is necessary for the voter to be able to truly verify the accuracy of his or her ballot--the ballot that will actually be counted. The only voting systems that permit truly accessible verification of the paper ballot are ballot marking devices. These non-tabulating devices, either electronic or non-electronic, assist the voter in marking and verifying votes on paper ballots that can either be optically scanned or hand-counted."

Last month, Mr. Runyan authored a report that details significant ways in which DREs fail to provide the accessibility claimed by vendors, election officials, and some disability rights groups. The report, "Improving Access to Voting: A report on the Technology for Accessible Voting Systems," can be downloaded at VoterAction.org and Demos.org in print, large print, and Braille formats.

Supported by this science, many individuals in the disabilities community who have privately expressed their concerns about the security of electronic ballots are now expressing those concerns publicly. Additional signatures are welcome. Email: voting@skyhighway.com.

Mr. Runyan is encouraging others to sign on quickly: "Hearings are being held on Capitol Hill this week, concerning disability access and voting. I would like to get this statement to Congress as quickly as possible, with as many signatures as possible."

Noel Runyan has been an expert in disability access technology for over 30 years. He became a critic of voting machines after his own experience with the Sequoia Edge II and subsequently became an expert witness in four separate lawsuits brought by Voter Action alleging that the machines were inadequate and therefore unlawful. He has worked with advocates to promote accessibility and security in voting systems as mutually attainable goals. Runyan is not affiliated with, nor has he received compensation from, any of the voting system vendors.

To download a PDF file of the report click below:

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Improving_Access_to_Voting_.pdf311.63 KB