Wednesday, 25 February 2004

Questions (150)

Jan O'Sullivan


237 Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will elaborate further on plans to accommodate blind persons in electronic voting; if voice activation, Braille or other methods to facilitate a secret ballot for blind voters will be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6201/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

Since its first use in 2002, a number of improvements have been made to the voting machine to improve its user friendliness for the visually impaired and other users. The new features include an increase in the size and legibility of candidate details, the use of larger preference numbers and brighter displays for better visibility and the use of a redesigned "Cast Vote" button. As with previous elections, a large copy of the ballot paper will be displayed in the polling station and a voter with a visual impairment may also avail of assisted voting facilities.

In addition, my Department is examining the development of a facility for the future whereby visually impaired voters, who would otherwise require assistance to vote, will be able to use the new voting system independently. My Department will be consulting with the National Disability Authority and the National Council for the Blind, who have already provided constructive input into the improvements made to the voting machine in regard to the development of this voting machine feature.