Renton – Today, King Conservation District (KCD), in conjunction with Democracy Live, announced that they will offer additional resources to voters with disabilities to ensure everyone can cast their vote in the 2020 King Conservation District Board of Supervisors election.
King Conservation District is a local agency that works with individuals, community-based organizations and others to leverage resources to improve environmental conditions in the region, such as improving streamside habitat and implementing conservation practices on rural farmland and urban community food production. Each year, KCD holds an election for one of their five Board of Supervisors seats.
This year, KCD is expanding the accessibility of their election by piloting a first-in-the-nation mobile voting system that is open to all registered voters. Created by Democracy Live, the system has previously been utilized by military voters and voters with disabilities as a secure alternative to return their ballot. Prior to the availability of accessible voting technology, voters with disabilities required assistance marking their ballots.
The current mobile voting solution being offered in the King Conservation District election allows voters with disabilities to access, mark, sign and return their ballot entirely independently. However, for vision impaired voters utilizing screen readers, voters must turn off screen readers to sign their name, before turning it back on to submit their ballot.
The issue, which was identified by Disability Rights WA, a local non-profit that protects the rights of people with disabilities statewide, is the result of screen reader incompatibility with Apple and Google operating systems. In order to provide an accessibility option for voters who are not able to turn off their screen reader to sign their ballot and screen, KCD will provide accessible voting locations at their office on Election Day, February 11th from 9:00am through 8:00pm. Free transportation to the KCD office will be provided for those effected by the screen reader issue through Democracy Live through a ride-share service. Voters effected by the issue can call 855-655-VOTE (8683) to arrange transportation to the KCD office, or for questions and assistance with voting from home.
“I am proud of the secure and accessible platform we have developed, but I started this company to improve accessibility to voting for all people. We regret that voters who are unable to turn off their screen readers are running into an additional step should they choose to vote independently by mobile device. Voters who are able to turn off their readers can still independently complete the voting process. We are already in conversations with Google and Apple about correcting this interface going forward. These updates, that we will continue to push for, will improve accessibility for the vision impaired in Washington State and beyond,” said Bryan Finney, Founder and CEO of Democracy Live.
Sheila Nix, President of Tusk Philanthropies, an organization that is leading secure pilots around the country on mobile voting and accessibility, said, “As a result of the leadership from Disability Rights WA, Tusk is working to incorporate accessibility testing for pilots going forward, in order to continue to improve accessibility for all voters.”