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Elections Canada plans app so blind, visually impaired voters can OK ballot

Click to play video: 'CNIB Mobile Hub providing resources to visually impaired people'
CNIB Mobile Hub providing resources to visually impaired people
A Canada-wide organization is providing support to people with vision loss in remote communities across the country. That includes in three cities in the Okanagan and the first stop was in Kelowna Tuesday afternoon. Jasmine King reports. – May 23, 2023

Elections Canada is looking for a firm with the technical know-how to design a phone app that will allow blind and visually impaired voters to “independently verify the mark on their ballot.”

Elections Canada’s tender for this job says they are looking for someone who can design, build, deliver and maintain a mobile application that will allow visually impaired and blind electors the ability to verify the mark on their own ballot.

“At this time, the independent verification of a marked ballot remains a barrier for people who are blind and partially sighted.,” said Nathalie de Montigny, a spokesperson for Elections Canada.

This is part of Elections Canada’s “Accessibility Plan” that they launched earlier this year.

The goal is to remove voting barriers for all Canadians by 2040, and be able to test this technology in 2024, de Montigny added.

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Click to play video: 'Digital voting for Nova Scotia by-election on radar of Elections Canada'
Digital voting for Nova Scotia by-election on radar of Elections Canada

 

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There are some options for blind and visually impaired voters already in place.

These include large print and braille candidate lists that follow the order on an official ballot, tactile and braille voting templates, magnifiers to enlarge text on ballots, and modified voting screens that let in more light.

If those options don’t work, voters can also bring in a support person, such as a family member, friend, or personal support worker, who can help a blind or visually impaired person vote.

“To protect the secrecy of the vote, the person is asked to make a solemn declaration before the elector marks their ballot. Additionally, an election worker can also assist in marking the ballot. A second election worker is always present to act as witness,” de Montigny said.

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The question remains whether the proposed app could be ready for whenever the next federal election happens.

The NDP have agreed to support the Liberal government in confidence votes until the next scheduled election in fall 2025.

However, with a minority government an election could be called earlier.

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