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Tap it to configure it

One of the barriers to participation is getting accessible systems set up and then configured for voters in the polling place. Could we use near field communications devices to automate common settings?

Photo of DeletedUser
11 11

Written by DeletedUser

Most current voting systems have to be put into accessibility mode manually, either by restarting the system or by manually selecting the options. I've been thinking about how to make this easier. 

I am at the CSUN International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference. One of the sessions included a demo by Steve Jacobs of Apps4Android on how near field communications (NFC) chips could be used to automatically set accessibility settings on an Android device. 

This made me think about how we could use something like this to set up a voting system. It wouldn't do anything but set the initial settings - for audio, font size, language etc. 

The poll workers at the sign-in table would have these devices pre-set for frequent needs - for example, for each language supported at the polling place, for high contrast, audio + video, audio only, tactile keypad, etc. They could be designed to be easy to hold, and have symbols indicating the setting they hold. A voter could ask for the one they want, and then set the system themselves. 

Or they could be near the machines, so a voter could select the right one, and not even have to ask for it. 

How will this concept improve election accessibility for everyone?

It would be easier to change the settings for a system for different access needs. Voters could select the one they want by function without having to describe a disability. This would make voters more independent, and make running the voting systems easier for both voters and poll workers.

How well does this concept adapt to the changing needs of different voter communities?

New settings could be added when needed. Does this need a visual and tactile "language" to distinguish different settings? What's the best shape and form so that people with limited dexterity can hold it, and use it at the voting system?

What kinds of resources – whether time, money, people, partnerships, technology or otherwise – will be needed to get this concept off the ground?

This would take a change in voting systems themselves, but this could go along with concepts to allow voters to use mobile devices, but as a voting system at the polling place.

My Virtual Team

The direct inspiration is Steve Jacobs, but this also builds on discussions at the accessible voting workshops (


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Photo of Patricio M. Hidalgo

Great read from another NFC advocate. Do you see relevancy to fusion our concepts?

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