Guest Blogged By John Gideon
Vote-PAD is a low-tech, voting assistive device that was developed with input from the disabilities community. Because it is inexpensive to purchase and maintain, Vote-PAD is a threat to electronic voting systems. Vote-PAD also makes voting a possibility for a wider range of voters with disabilities than do almost all of the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) or touch-screen voting systems.
Even though some northern California counties had already purchased Vote-PAD for use in their elections as their HAVA compliant voting system for voters with disabilities; the Secretary of State decided that they would have to certify Vote-PAD for use with the optical-scan systems that are in use in each of the user counties.
The state then wrote a test plan that was totally unfair to the voters with disabilities who were expected to test the Vote-PAD. The state did not use a Human Factors Usability Testing Expert, an expert in writing test procedures for disabilities access. Instead they wrote a procedure that would have been better suited to testing a computerized voting system and they appear to have done this without really understanding how voters with disabilities actually use the device.
It is important to note that the state of California has certified for use many voting systems produced by Sequoia, Elections Systems and Software, Diebold, and Hart Intercivic. These devices have been certified by the state as being HAVA compliant and usable by voters with disabilities. Yet, not one of the electronic voting systems has been tested specifically by the disabilities community or even advocates for that community. Instead, a cursory inspection was made by unqualified staff and/or unqualified consultants and they were all accepted for use.