Voting Machines

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A federal law requiring voting polls to make changes to become more handicapped accessible has some local counties spending money that they just don't have.

HAVA, or the Help America Vote Act of 2002, requires all states to have a voting system in place that's accessible to persons with disabilities, including those who are blind or have low vision.

Debbie Wilcox-Morris, Holmes County Supervisor of Elections, says, "So if you had a person that was blind or low vision and they chose to use the paper ballot and just have assistance from some one of their choice or the poll workers, they'd still be allowed to do that. They're not required to use that equipment. We're just required to have it there for them."

But a federal judge ruled Thursday that the Volusia County Elections Office did not have to provide touch screen voting machines which allows blind voters to cast their ballots without assistance. This after Bay County spent nearly a quarter of a million in tax dollars to acquire the same machines.

Smaller counties like Holmes say they still plan to purchase the machines despite not being sure where the funding will come from.

"We received $72,000 from the state and quote is $173,000, so that leaves the county coming up with approximately $100,000 to purchase equipment."

U.S. District Judge John Antoon II based his ruling on previous cases also stating that federal law didn't require equipment for visually disabled people to vote independently.

Bay County was one of the first in the state to purchase the new touch screen voting machines. The supervisor of elections’ office received 65 of them last week.