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How To Vote In Person If You're Blind Or Visually Impaired

A woman uses a voting machine to vote.
Lisa Young
A woman listens to an audio version of a ballot and makes selections with a Braille keypad.

From now through Election Day,  ideastream is answering your questions about voting. Karen emailed us to ask what kinds of accommodations boards of elections make for blind people who want to vote in person.

Under federal law, all polling places must have at least one accessible voting machine available for people with disabilities, including visually impaired voters. One example of this type of machine allows voters to listen to an audio version of the ballot and make their choices using a keypad marked in Braille — like an ATM.

For voters with less severe impairments, the machine can also magnify the text on the ballot, said Pete Zeigler, director of the Geauga County Board of Elections. The same machine can assist voters who have dexterity challenges or other issues with their hands, allowing them to make choices using a paddle or a "sip and puff" mouth instrument.

Voters who would rather not use the machine can also bring a friend or family member with them to read the ballot, Zeigler said, or request assistance from a bipartisan team of poll workers.

Justin Glanville is the deputy editor of engaged journalism at Ideastream Public Media.