This article may be cited as "The Accessible Voting Technology Act".
The Legislature makes the following findings:
(1) Microchip and digital technologies are increasingly changing the way Americans vote;
(2) State and political subdivisions are replacing antiquated voting methods and machines with computer- and electronic-based voting systems, but nonvisual access, whether by speech, Braille or other appropriate means is often overlooked in certifying and purchasing the latest voting technology;
(3) Voting technology and systems which allow the voter to access and select information solely through visual means are a barrier to access by individuals who are blind or visually impaired, thereby discouraging them from exercising the right to vote, the most fundamental right of citizenship in a free and democratic society;
(4) Software and hardware adaptations have been created so that voters can interact with voting technology and systems through both visual and nonvisual means allowing blind and visually impaired people to cast a secret ballot and independently verify their vote; and
(5) In promoting full participation in the electoral process, the goals of the state and its political subdivisions must recognize the right of all citizens regardless of blindness or visual impairment to vote and to cast and verify their ballots independently.
As used in this article, unless the context otherwise requires a different meaning, the term:
(1) "Access" means the ability to receive, use, select and manipulate data and operate controls included in voting technology and systems;
(2) "Nonvisual" means synthesized speech, Braille and other output methods not requiring sight.
(a) If any county upgrades or replaces existing voting equipment or an existing voting system and the upgraded or new equipment or system is certified by the Secretary of State to have the capability to provide or the capability to be upgraded to provide blind and visually impaired individuals with nonvisual access which is equivalent to that access provided to individuals who are not blind or visually impaired, then the county must purchase or lease at least one voting mechanism which provides such nonvisual access to be used during the period of voting regular absentee ballots in person. The voting mechanism must also be used in a precinct, as designated by the county commission, on election day.
(b) The county commission of any county may place voting mechanisms that provide nonvisual access to blind or visually impaired persons in as many other precincts of the county as the county commission determines is feasible for use on election day, if the type of voting mechanism to be used has been certified by the Secretary of State.