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HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 135         FILED ON: 1/11/2011

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 201

 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

_________________

PRESENTED BY:

Peter J. Koutoujian

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To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General
              Court assembled:

              The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the adoption of the accompanying bill:

An Act to secure the right of blind and visually impaired people to vote under the same conditions of privacy and independence as sighted people.

_______________

PETITION OF:

 

Name:

District/Address:

Peter J. Koutoujian

10th Middlesex


HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 135        FILED ON: 1/11/2011

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 201

By Mr. Koutoujian of Waltham, petition (accompanied by Bill, House, No. 201) of Peter J. Koutoujian for legislation to ensure privacy and independence for blind and visually impaired voters.  Election Laws.

 

[SIMILAR MATTER FILED IN PREVIOUS SESSION
SEE HOUSE, NO. 657 OF 2009-2010.]


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
 

_______________

In the Year Two Thousand Eleven

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An Act to secure the right of blind and visually impaired people to vote under the same conditions of privacy and independence as sighted people.
 

              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
 

              SECTION 1. This Act may be cited as “The Accessible Voting Technology Act of 2003”.

              SECTION 2. Findings.

              The legislature makes the following findings:

              (1) Microchip and digital technologies are increasingly changing the way Americans vote.

              (2) State and political subdivisions are replacing antiquated voting methods and machines with computer and electronic-based voting systems, but non-visual access, whether by speech, Braille, or other appropriate means is often overlooked in certifying and purchasing the latest voting technology.

              (3) Voting technology and systems which allow the voter to access and select information solely through a visual means are a barrier to access by individuals who are blind or visually impaired, thereby discouraging them from exercising the right to vote — the most fundamental right of citizenship in a free and democratic society.

              (4) Software and hardware adaptations have been created so that voters can interact with voting technology and systems through both visual and non-visual means allowing blind and visually impaired people to cast a secret ballot and independently verify their vote

              (5) In promoting full participation in the electoral process, the goals of the state and its political subdivisions must recognize the incontrovertible right of all citizens regardless of blindness or visual impairment to vote; and

              (6) This right must include the opportunity for individuals who are blind or visually impaired to cast and verify their ballots independently.

              SECTION 3. Definitions

              In this Act:

              (1) The term “access” means the ability to receive, use, select, and manipulate data and operate controls included in voting technology and systems.

              (2) The term “non-visual” means synthesized speech, Braille, and other output methods not requiring sight.

              SECTION 4. Requirements for accessible voting technology and systems.

              (1) The state chief election officer shall require (by certification or otherwise) that the voting technology and systems used by the state or any political subdivision provide blind and visually impaired individuals with access which is equivalent to that provided to individuals who are not blind or visually impaired, including the ability for the voter to cast and verify all selections made by both visual and non-visual means.

              (2) In requiring non-visual access pursuant to subparagraph 1, the chief election officer shall obtain recommendations from representatives of blind consumer organizations, experts in accessible software and hardware design, and any other individual or organization the chief election officer determines to be appropriate.

              SECTION 5. Existing technology and systems.

              (1) Compliance with this Act in regard to voting technology and systems purchased prior to the effective date of this Act shall be achieved at the time of procurement of an upgrade or replacement of the existing equipment or systems.

              SECTION 6. Action for injunction

              (1) A person injured by a violation of this Act may maintain an action for injunctive relief to enforce the terms of this Act.(a) Limitation period for a civil action.—

              (1) Any such action shall be commenced within four years after the cause of action accrues.

              (2) For the purposes of this subsection, a cause of action for a continuing violation accrues at the time of the latest violation.

              SECTION 7. Effective date.

              This act shall take effect and be in force from the date of enactment of this Act.

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