Kitsap Auditor’s Votemobile Hits the Road to Help Disabled Voters

The Kitsap County Auditor’s office is trying a new approach to reaching voters with disabilities. They call it a “Votemobile.”

Electronic voting machines, called Disability Access Units, have been in use in Kitsap since shortly after the Help America Vote Act was passed in 2002. The act, drafted in response to controversy over the 2000 presidential election, ensures the right to vote of citizens who might otherwise be disenfranchised.

Kitsap placed the machines in polling places before the county went to all mail-in ballots in 2005. After that, machines were located at the county courthouse and the Poulsbo Fire Station, and elections staff worked with Kitsap Transit to transport voters who wanted to use them.

But as the auditor’s office learned from a panel of citizens familiar with disabilities, most people — especially those who are physically challenged — would rather vote at home, even if it means giving up some privacy by having a family member or caregiver help fill out the ballot. So county elections staff decided to bring the Disability Access Units to the people.

Between now and election day, Nov. 6, the Votemobile will visit nursing homes and assisted living facilities. A schedule is pasted below.

As with mail-in ballots, votes cast on the electronic machines are secure and private, and they are backed up with a paper record in the case of a manual recount, said Auditor Karen Flynn.

Flynn said an aura of controversy still clings to the machines among some “special interest groups,” because of their role in the Bush versus Gore election. Machines similar to those used in Kitsap County were in use, along with punch card ballots, in Florida precincts where the outcome of the vote was questioned. Flynn said such mistrust is an overreaction given that Washington State law provides an arsenal of checks and balances to deter anyone who would try to manipulate results.
‘Whether those devices could be hacked and manipulated, that has never been an issue in Washington State,” said Flynn. “But we still have people who are voicing their concerns and mistrusts.”


Votemobile Schedule
Oct. 26: Wyatt House, 186 Wyatt Way, Bainbridge Island, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.; Madison Retirement Center, 285 Madison Ave. S, 2 to 4 p.m.
Oct. 29: Martha & Mary health center, 19160 Front St. NE, Poulsbo, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.; Ridgemont Terrace, 2051 Pottery Ave., Port Orchard, 2 to 4 p.m.
Oct. 30: Country Meadows, 12169 Country Meadows, Silverdale, 10 to 11:30 a.m.; Liberty Shores, 19360 Viking Ave., Poulsbo, 1 to 3 p.m.
Oct. 31: Canterbury Manor, 703 Callahan Dr., Bremerton, 9:30 to 11:30; Park Vista, 2944 SE Lund Ave., Port Orchard, 2 to 4 p.m.
Nov. 1: Montclair Park, 1250 NE Lincoln, Poulsbo, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.; Washington Veteran’s Home, 1141, Beach Dr., Retsil, 2 to 4 p.m.
Nov. 2: Cypress Gardens, 3500 9th St., Bremerton, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.; Virginia Villa, 200 High School Road NE, Bainbridge Island, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 5: Crista Shores, 1600 NW Crista Shores Lane, Silverdale; 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Nov. 6: Port Orchard Voting Center, Kitsap County Administration Building, 619 Division St., Port Orchard, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Poulsbo Voting Center, Poulsbo Fire Station, 911 NE Liberty Road, Poulsbo, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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