Large Format Ballots to Aid Vision Impaired Voters in Oregon

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OakTree Digital announces it is working with the Oregon Secretary of State to create an automated process for creating Large Print Ballots (LPB) for voters with visual impairments. The system will allow county elections officials to distribute Large Print Ballots (LPB) to individual voters who request them.

OakTree Digital announces the start of the Large Print Ballots (LPB) project for the Oregon Secretary of State (SOS), Elections Division.

The purpose of the project is to add large print format functionality (18pt font) to the existing Alternate Format Ballot (AFB) Conversion Application. This new functionality will allow county elections officials to create, print and mail Large Print Ballots (LPB) to voters with visual impairments. The large print capability will leverage the current OakTree AFB conversion application that works with the Oregon Centralized Voter Registration (OCVR) system.

With OakTree's Large Print Ballot addition to the Alternate Format Ballot system, county election officials will have an easy-to-use conversion application that lets them create LPBs quickly and accurately. The conversion application uses the ballot definition data fields county election officials have previously entered into the OCVR to create PDFs of large font ballots. Thus, the LPB and the AFB are created using the same basic data that is used to create the regular printed ballots that are mailed to registered voters.

OakTree's existing Alternative Format Ballot (AFB) was designed to work alongside Oregon's vote by mail process to enable individuals with disabilities, including non-visual accessibility for the blind and visually impaired to vote in much the same manner as all Oregon Voters: independently and privately from home, or another place of the voters' choosing.

The AFB leverages W3C Accessibility Guidelines for HTML coding, a computer (with any required assistive technology, necessary for accessibility), a web browser and a printer to allow a person with a disability to access and mark a ballot, print a ballot and verify the ballot. A voter who is blind is able to verify the printed ballot is marked correctly by using a scanner and screen reader. The AFB can, upon request, be sent directly to the voter who has the necessary technology at home to be able to complete the ballot.

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 included provisions to ensure that voters with disabilities are provided the opportunity to vote privately and independently and have equal access to the process. The SOS office contracted with OakTree Digital to deliver an application to convert election data from the Oregon Centralized Voter Registration (OCVR) system to W3C compliant HTML coding.

OakTree's AFB product was used successfully in both the 2008 statewide primary and the 2008 general election.

OakTree will also provided a training module to train state-wide election officials on how to create the LPB including data import, ballot generation, ballot management, ballot distribution, and the preparation of ballot packages.

Oregon has once again proven its "pioneer" image by leading the nation in providing a 21st Century solution to accessibility to voting for people with disabilities in a vote by mail environment. More importantly, these solutions ensure privacy and independence for many voters with disabilities.

For more information, visit OakTree Digital or call 503-517-3800.

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John Schmitt
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