County approves plan to purchase machines for disabled voters

The Washington County Board of Commissioners approved a plan that will purchase assistive voting machines for every precinct in the county. These machines will allow voters who are unable to use their hands or who are sight-impaired to cast ballots. Previously such voters would often need to bring another person into the voting booth with them. The new measures are required nationwide due to federal legislation. Additional state legislation provides partial funding for the new measure.

One key issue for Washington County and some other metro counties is that the assistive voting machines required by the State of Minnesota don’t communicate with the county’s existing machines, which automatically count votes. The county is asking the Secretary of State to certify an assistive voting machine that is compatible with the county’s vote counting machines. Another option would be an additional state grant to pay for new vote counting technology. If neither of those requests is granted, the county could be forced to pay an extra $300,000 to purchase new vote counting equipment to comply with the federal and state mandates.

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