AutoMARK provides voters accessibility options

Voters with disabilities can use a device, called an AutoMARK, to more easily mark their ballots. A video on AutoMARK […]

Voters with disabilities can use a device, called an AutoMARK, to more easily mark their ballots. A video on AutoMARK use, narrated by Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, will be posted on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office Web site during the week of October 13. To view the video, go to the Secretary of State Web site at www.sos.state.mn.us and click on “Election Center,” then “Voter Outreach and Education” and scroll down to “Using the AutoMARK” under “Videos.”

“The AutoMARK, which will be in every polling place in Minnesota, is a voting station that ensures that all voters can vote privately and independently,” said Ritchie. The AutoMARK offers voters a number of easy ways to mark their ballots including a touch-screen with large print; headphones and audio instructions; and a keypad marked in Braille. The intent is to make voting easier.

“Everyone in Minnesota votes on a paper ballot. The AutoMARK only marks the paper ballot, it does not count votes” Ritchie said. “Voters must still put their completed ballot into the ballot counter once it is marked.” AutoMARK machines are not only available on Election Day. The machines are also available for in-person absentee voting at county offices, from now until Nov. 3.

The machine itself guides the voter through the voting process. It starts when the ballot is inserted into the machine. A prompt on the screen or audio will tell the voter that the AutoMARK is scanning the ballot. When scanning is complete, an instruction screen will appear and audio instructions will begin. Read and/or listen to the voting instructions. Touch the flashing NEXT button at the bottom of the screen or the RIGHT ARROW to proceed to the ballot.

The AutoMARK offers a number of ways to mark the ballot. These are by using the touch screen or by using the headphones and Braille keypad.

The machine provides step-by-step instructions for voters. For each race, note the number of candidates that you can vote for. The AutoMARK won’t allow you to vote for more candidates than allowed in a race.

In races in which only a single candidate may be selected—which is most races—you may change your selection by selecting a different candidate. The AutoMARK will only register your last selection.

In races in which you are allowed to vote for more than one candidate—such as for school board or council members—the AutoMARK will inform you if you select too many candidates.

The AutoMARK also will notify you if you have not entered a vote for a specific candidate or ballot question—or if you don’t vote for as many candidates as allowed. The AutoMARK allows you to write in candidates as well. To cast a vote for a write-in candidate, touch the WRITE IN option and a keyboard will appear on the screen. Audio instructions will also prompt for WRITE IN candidates.

Use the keyboard to type in the name of a candidate for whom you would like to cast a vote. Or, hit the SELECT key and follow the audio instructions, touching the SELECT key for each letter of the name you are writing in. Once you have entered the name, press OK or the RIGHT ARROW key and the name of your write-in selection will appear on your ballot.

When you have completed the ballot, a summary screen will appear listing all of the selections you made—please review all of your ballot selections. If you want to change a selection, you may do so by touching the candidate and entering another selection.

When satisfied with your selections press NEXT or RIGHT ARROW to have your votes marked on the ballot. You will be asked to confirm that you want to mark your ballot by touching the MARK BALLOT on the screen or the RIGHT ARROW.

Then, the AutoMARK will process and return your marked ballot. After a few seconds, a “Thank You for using the AutoMARK” message will be delivered. This means you have successfully completed the ballot-marking process.

Remove your ballot from the AutoMARK. You may use the privacy sleeve available in your polling place to protect your selections from view. Proceed to the ballot counter or ballot box so your ballot may be counted—the AutoMARK does not count votes.

If you need assistance during the ballot-marking process, ask for an election judge.

The Minnesota Secretary of State’s office offers other online assistance for voters. Voters may view “You Decide!” a six-minute video produced by the Commission of Deaf, Deafblind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans which shares perspective on voting and the electoral process; in American Sign Language (ASL) with English subtitles.

Double your impact - support quality journalism - give nonprofit, give now