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Making the Municipal Election Accessible for Everyone

‘So it is all done in a privacy screen so nobody can see how they are voting and is completely independent’ by: Chris Dawson
Sept 26, 2018

The municipal election is still more than three weeks away but today the City of North Bay was getting prepared for it.

Officials gathered at Memorial Gardens to test their Automark Voter terminal – one of five that will be set up for the advanced polls which begin on October 3rd at the Gardens.

Through the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which was introduced in 2005, the province has targeted 2025 as a date to make the province fully accessible.

The City of North Bay wants to be right on track with that mandate.

“The City of North Bay is committed to participating in that initiative and we are working to make sure the election is available for everyone within the city of North Bay if they are an elector,” said Judy Bechard, Deputy City Clerk with the City of North Bay.

“The interesting thing is one in seven persons in Ontario could be a person with a disability. If we were to do the calculations in the city of North Bay that could be over 5,000 individuals. Disabilities are not always readily apparent but what we want to do is remove the barriers that we can to make the election fully accessible.”

Bechard says the terminal will read back a ballot to an individual who has low vision or is blind. It reads it back and tells them what the selections options are on the ballot and confirms that selection they make and then marks the ballot for them.

“So it is all done in a privacy screen so nobody can see how they are voting and is completely independent,” said Bechard.

Members of the Municipality Accessibility Advisory Committee are thrilled the city is offering this service at the advanced polls.

“I can only imagine how members of our community must feel as the barriers are removed at the voting polls,” stated Nora Long, Chair of the (MAAC) Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee.

“This barrier-free environment provides inclusion for our community with the accessibility to participate in such an important event.”

Advance Polls will be held at the following locations:

Memorial Gardens – 100 Chippewa St W

October 3, 2018 10 a.m. – 3 p.m

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