Voters With Disabilities

Douglas County, the State of Nebraska, and the Federal Government have worked hard over the years to improve voting options for voters with disabilities. All polling places in Douglas County are ADA compliant and equipped to allow voters with disabilities to mark their ballot privately without requiring assistance from friends, family, or poll workers. Please read the information below to learn more.

Help America Vote Act

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 was passed as a result of the problems experienced in Florida during the 2000 Presidential Elections. The Federal Government decided to step in to ensure that elections were more uniform across the country, while still allowing individual states to make decisions that were important and unique to them.

Nebraska was one of the first states to complete all the requirements of HAVA. All 93 Nebraska counties converted to a state-wide voter registration system in 2005, and disabled voter assistance equipment made it to the polls in time for the 2006 Primary Election. Finally, Nebraska created provisional voting to ensure no voter was turned away. Nebraska was finished with the entire HAVA process before some states even began.

AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal

The AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal was designed and developed to allow blind and disabled voters to vote without needing outside assistance from friends, family, or poll workers. It allows those voters to vote their own ballot independently for the very first time.

The AutoMARK works as a ballot marking device; however, it does not tabulate the votes. Instead, the disabled voter is given the same paper ballot that every other voter receives. The voter feeds the ballot into the AutoMARK. The machine can display the ballot information on a view screen which can be magnified, or the AutoMARK can "read" the ballot to the voter through headphones using text-to-speech technology. The voter has the option to make his or her choices using the touch screen or the Braille keypad.

Once the voter has made his or her selections, the AutoMARK will fill in the appropriate ovals on the ballot. Once that is finished, the ballot is ejected from the machine, and the voter takes the ballot to be placed in the ballot box, just like all other voters. The AutoMARK does not store the voters' selections, and therefore, assures voter privacy.

AutoMARK Features

  • An audio function with headset and earphones to listen to choices
  • A zoom feature to increase the size of type for any and all races listed on the optical scan ballot
  • A touch screen
  • A Braille keypad
  • A sip/puff tube for voters who are not able to use the touch screen or touch pad
  • Ability to cast a vote for write-in candidates

Voter Assistance

Voters who are unable to mark their own ballot may still have a friend or family member assist them in voting. They may also have a poll worker give them the assistance they require.

Instructions for Voters at the Polls

Voters who require assistance at their polling place should never hesitate to ask a poll worker for help. If you feel you are not receiving the assistance you require, please call the Election Commission immediately, and we will be happy to assist you.

As with all other voters, disabled voters should approach the poll workers seated at a table. Give the poll worker your name, address, and any other information they request. Tell them whether you wish to use the AutoMARK or if you will be needing their assistance in marking your ballot.

If you wish to use the AutoMARK, a poll worker will get you started with using the machine. Once you have begun the voting process, the poll worker will step away to give you privacy. If you have questions, please feel free to ask the poll worker for more help. The AutoMARK has instructions that will be shown on the screen or spoken to you over the headphones.

Once you have completed your ballot, whether by voting it yourself, having someone assist you in marking it, or by using the AutoMARK, you will place the ballot in the privacy sleeve that was provided to you by the poll workers. Take your ballot back to the table where you checked in, and a poll worker will place your voted ballot into the ballot box. If you have any problems or questions regarding your ballot, please be sure to ask the questions before your ballot is placed in the ballot box. Once your ballot is deposited into the ballot box, it cannot be retrieved, and you will be unable to change your voting choices.

It is the goal of the Election Commission to have an equal voting experience for all voters. If you or a family member need more information, please contact the Election Commission.