Grant will buy new voting equipment

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A grant of just under $5,000 will mean more freedoms for physically challenged voters in Chilton County.

With the grant, Probate Judge Bobby Martin hopes to purchase magnifying glasses for voters with low vision, along with wheelchair-accessible tables.

The grant is being awarded by the Secretary of State’s Office as part of the Help America Vote Act of 2002. The Chilton County Commission approved the grant at its Monday night meeting.

No match from the county will be required.

“This equipment helps ensure that physically challenged people can vote,” Martin said. “They’ve got the right to vote as much as anybody.”

Chilton County already has 19 voting machines that utilize Braille keys, earphones and a “sip and puff” device (a mouthpiece for voters who do not have use of their limbs). There are enough of the machines, called iVotronic machines, for each precinct.

With the latest grant, the county should have enough wheelchair-accessible tables for half of the voting precincts, and enough magnifying glasses for all of them, Martin said. The tables also include petitions for privacy.

The equipment supplier, Inclusion Solutions, has already filled out the appropriate paperwork, Martin reported.

“This grant covers anything that has to do with the physically challenged,” he said.

While the devices have not seen extensive use in Chilton County, the idea is to be able to offer them. Martin said the machines have been used on occasion, although the sip and puff device has never been used.

“We’ve never used ours, but we’re capable of letting somebody vote (if they need it),” he said.