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ES&S Automark Handicapped-Accessible Voting Technology Gets Federal Certification

Ballot-marking device to be available this summer

by / June 7, 2005
AutoMARK Technical Systems LLC, announced that its unique handicapped-accessible voting equipment, "ES&S AutoMARK", has successfully completed testing for federal certification. This means the ballot-marking device could be available this summer. The 40,000 polling places across 42 states that currently use or are considering the optical scan method of ballot-marking will be candidates for this state-of- the-art voting machine, which uses a touch screen, allows for an auditable paper trail and gives disabled Americans the option to vote privately and independently.

The addition of this technology to an existing optical scan system will bring those polling places into compliance with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 requiring all polling locations to be equipped with at least one voting machine for people with disabilities by January 2006.

The ES&S AutoMARK offers a virtually fool-proof way for all Americans to vote accurately with a high level of confidence that their vote is private and secure -- and, since the Chad fiasco of 2000 -- gives polling places reliable and legal documents in case of a recount.

"The certification of the AutoMARK will provide a new ADA-compliant voting option for jurisdictions that want to retain or implement paper-based election systems," says Dean Westrom, chairman of the DuPage County, IL Election Commission, servicing more than one million people. "The system works with existing optical scanners and provides unmatched features for the disability community."

The ES&S AutoMARK prevents overvoting, accidentally marking too many candidates; and minimizes undervoting, skipping a race unintentionally. At the end, the votes are summarized on the screen, also via headphones, and voters have a chance to change selections. Once complete, the voter brings the ballot to an optical scan machine for tabulation.

The machine offers several features for disabled voters, including an audio ballot; a tempo control voice technology; directions and a touch pad with Braille; repeat key voice technology; sip/puff tube for paraplegics and quadriplegics; and zoom and contrast button for the visually impaired. It also features a full range of foreign language options.

This technology was created by Chicago-based AutoMARK Technical Systems (ATS) and is being distributed by Election Systems and Software (ES&S).

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