Montana’s Statewide Elections have various options for voters with disabilities or voters who need special assistance, including the new Electronic Ballot Request System (EBRS), available for state and federal elections beginning 30 days before election day and through noon the day before election day.
- EBRS – Overview
- EBRS – Voter FAQs
- Every polling place in Montana has at least one specialized voting machine, called an AutoMARK™ or ExpressVote®, that enables people with disabilities to vote independently and privately.
- If you cannot enter a polling place, election judges will assist you with “curbside voting.”
- If you have a physical disability or are unable to read or write, you may ask an election judge to help you mark your ballot. Or, you can bring any individual (other than your employer or employer’s agent or union agent) who, with the permission of the election judge, can go into the voting booth with you and help you vote.
- You may also designate an agent to assist you with the voting process on the Designation of Agent by Individual with Disability form. Deliver the signed application to your local election office.
- You may apply for an electronic ballot that can be marked on your personal computer, printed and returned by mail or in person to the election office.
- The Voter Information Pamphlet published by the Secretary of State for each state general election is available in braille and audio formats.
Contact [email protected] if you have a voting accessibility suggestion or concern.
Accessible Voting Equipment
The Secretary of State’s office has partnered with all 56 counties in Montana to offer the ES&S ExpressVote® ballot-marking technology that provides options for all voters including those who have a disability or physical limitations to mark and cast a ballot privately and independently. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requires each polling place for any Federal election be accessible and provide a voting device equipped to allow all voters the means to vote.
The AutoMARK™ and ExpressVote® voter assist terminals are ballot-marking systems that use touch-screen technology to produce a paper record for tabulation. Both are designed to provide privacy and accessibility to all voters including those who are blind, vision-impaired, or have a disability or condition that makes it difficult or impossible to mark a ballot. They are a universal voting system designed for use by all with an accessible keypad equipped with braille and the ability to use rocker panel and Sip-and-Puff devices. As a compliant ADA voting solution, the AutoMARK™ or ExpressVote® allows both standing and seated voters the ability to mark and cast a ballot.
How to use the AutoMARK™:
- The election judge will remove the stub off the ballot and place it in a secrecy sleeve. (The stub must be removed for the AutoMARK™ to read the ballot).
- The voter inserts the secrecy sleeve into the AutoMARK™ and the AutoMARK™ accepts the ballot. The secrecy sleeve will stay in the AutoMARK™ so the ballot will remain secret when it is printed. The voter can ask the election judge for headphones to hear the audio of the ballot. If the voter is using headphones, they can select the “screen” button at the top right to darken for privacy.
- The keypad has raised buttons in the shape of arrows for ease of use .
- The AutoMARK™ also has an accessible keypad equipped with braille and the ability to use rocker panel and Sip-and-Puff devices.
- Individuals with low or no vision can use the keypad on the right side to navigate the choices. The audio will read those choices. The voter can also change the contrast and font size to make the screen easier to read.
- The voter marks their choices for candidates and ballot issues.
- Upon completion, the AutoMARK™ will confirm the choices, allow changes to the ballot, confirm those changes, and will then mark and print the ballot so it comes out in the secrecy sleeve. If the ballot is inserted back into the machine, the audio will read the ballot and marked choices.
- An election judge will take the ballot in the secrecy sleeve and drop it into the ballot box.
How to use the ExpressVote®:
- Voters who choose to use the ExpressVote® in Montana will receive a paper ballot card. The voter inserts the ballot card into the ExpressVote® and an electronic version of the ballot will appear on the screen.
- Images of the ballot contests can be enlarged for easier reading, shown in reverse contrast, or turned off for privacy if a voter chooses to access the ballot by attached headphones and keypad.
- Headphones and a tactile keypad are available for voters to use an audio ballot. The audio description of the ballot can be used in place of or in conjunction with the visual version on the screen.
- The keypad has raised buttons in the shape of arrows for ease of use, and also an accessible keypad equipped with braille markings and the ability to use rocker panel and Sip-and-Puff devices.
- Voters can mark their choices for candidates and ballot issues.
- Upon completion of marking the ballot, voters can confirm their choices on the ExpressVote confirmation page. The ExpressVote® warns of undervotes and will not allow overvotes. The voter may make changes before the ballot is marked. The voter is provided a summary of selections.
- When the voter selects “Mark Ballot”, the voters’ selections are printed and the ballot card is ejected. The ExpressVote® keeps no record of votes. It is a paper-based, electronic ballot marking device. If a marked ballot is inserted back into the ExpressVote®, the touch screen will display the selections marked on the ballot. The headphones will also describe the selections marked on that ballot simultaneously.
- The voter takes the marked ballot card to the precinct ballot box for casting. All ballots-whether voted by pen, AutoMARK™ or ExpressVote®, go into the same ballot box. A ballot privacy sleeve is provided to all voters.
10 Tips for Voters With Disabilities – www.eac.gov
Curbside Voting: Voters who are unable to enter the polling location may ask that a ballot be brought to them by an election judge.