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New Measures to Help Disabled Vote

By SARAH DEETH EXAMINER STAFF WRITER
Posted October 19, 2010

With one week to go before election day, officials are working to ensure that the city is able to meet the needs of all voters.

City clerk Nancy Wright- Laking said all municipalities are required to have accessible-voting options.

Peterborough has always been a leader when it comes to accessibility, she said, and has taken additional steps to make sure everyone is able to cast a ballot.

Each voting location was extensively reviewed to ensure it’s accessible, she said. That includes proper ramps to accommodate wheelchairs, scooters and walkers, and voting tables have been modified so that equipment can easily fit between table legs.

An audio ballot polling station is available at City Hall, but not at other locations, Wright-Laking said.

That machine is equipped with a sip/huff device, designed for people with mobility issues or who have trouble writing.

Ballots are cast by sipping or huffing into a straw-like device, Wright-Laking said. The station also has foot pedals, allowing disabled voters to cast
ballots with their feet.

Anyone with significant mobility issues can bring a friend to help them vote.

Wright-Laking said that friend has to swear an oath promising to vote the way the voter wants to, adding that the deputy returning officer (DRO) can also
help someone behind the voter’s screen.

If someone has difficulty getting out of a vehicle the DRO can take a ballot out to the vehicle, Wright-Laking said.

There’s no need for anyone with any accessibility issues to make an appointment to vote.

Wright-Laking said all election staff are trained to help voters.

Internet voting began Monday morning. It’s a great way for people to vote from home, she said.

You can vote at any time of the day or night, though you do need to register and receive a personal identification number (PIN) first.

Wright-Laking said getting a PIN isn’t an instant process and takes up to 24 hours.

Each registration is checked for security purposes, she said.

Included in Internet voting is an audio ballot, and Wright- Laking said it’s compatible with voice-activated software.

Voters can vote anywhere in the city on election day, regardless of their address.

“You don’t have to go to a specific location, like you do in the federal or provincial election,” she said.

There will be 19 polling stations throughout the city, including two at the Evinrude Centre.

Wright-Laking said the Monaghan Rd. facility is a popular spot with voters.

Advanced voting began on Saturday, at five locations.

This week there’s an advanced poll that’s running from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at City Hall on Water St. from Monday to Thursday.

“There’s always a lineup at 10 a.m.,” Wright-Laking said with a laugh. “Every municipality in Ontario has a lineup at 10 a.m.”

There’s another rush of people closer to lunchtime, she said, and usually another one at dinnertime.

All voters have to have proper identification with them, a requirement under provincial legislation, Wright-Laking said.

Identification must include a picture, your address, and your signature.

A driver’s licence is ideal, she said, but if you’ve recently moved and haven’t updated the licence, bring it and something like a bill or a tax form that
has your current address.

If you don’t have the proper identification you can still vote, but you’ll be required to take an oath and sign a form.

sdeeth@peterboroughexaminer.com

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Ballots cast in city so far

* 1,021 votes were cast during Saturday’s advance poll.

* By 11:30 a.m. Monday 80 people voted at City Hall, with a lineup at the door.

* 179 people voted online by 11:30 a.m. Monday and there were 1,712 requests for personal identification numbers for Intranet voting.

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Examiner Online Poll

In our last online poll we asked readers whether the $8,000 the city gave Our Space should be used for a fence or for more services — 44% said it should
not have been spent at all, 33% said for more services and 23% said for the fence. Today we ask, Has the city done enough to accommodate disabled voters
in the election?

Go to our website to vote or view up-to-date results.

www.peterboroughexaminer.com

Article ID# 2806123

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