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Five Counties Test Electronic Mail-In Ballots For Blind Voters

A woman pulls her car up to a mailbox and rolls down her window. In her hand is a mail-in ballot. She reaches her hand out of the car window and is about to put her ballot into the mailbox.
Kristen Prahl
Adobe Stock
The Omni Ballot System allows blind voters to fill out their ballots on the computer, then print them out to be mailed or dropped off at the Supervisor of Elections office.

Blind Floridians in at least five counties will have the chance to fill out their vote by mail ballots online for the general election in November. The Omni Ballot System allows blind voters to cast their mail ballot independently. Whereas before, they would need someone's help. Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles says this new alternative is getting mixed reviews.

"Some [blind voters] have called and have been very adamant, 'I want my paper ballot. Don't send me the electronic.' Others have said, 'I love my express vote. I'll go to the polls. I'll go to early voting,' and use that, and others say, 'you know, I have assistance, and I can take care of my own voting with my assistance,'" Cowles says.

Blind voters will still need to mail their electronic ballot or drop it off in-person. Cowles says he still wants to send blind voters a backup mail ballot if the electronic system fails. Supervisors are still working out some kinks when signing people up for an e-ballot.

"There are voters who have already got their vote by mail request out there. So, our concern is, of course, putting the voter into the system and not having it show up as a duplicate request or second request for that voter," Cowles says.

Orange, Miami-Dade, Pinellas, Volusia, and Nassau counties are participating in a pilot to test the Omni Ballot System. Those counties will offer e-ballots during the general election in November. Other counties have the option but aren't required to provide blind voters with e-ballots.

Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.