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Polls prepared for Low Vision Voters

Greg Benavidez lost his vision years ago making voting difficult and sometimes intimidating.

He recalls someone helping him fill out a mail-in ballot, while questioning his picks.

For the first time, he will vote with equipment made for people with visual or physical challenges.

During a demonstration at the Santa Barbara County elections office on Monday, he voted for simple things like this favorite singer; Stevie Ray Vaughan, car maker; Honda and ice cream flavor; Vanilla.

Benavidez is the Braille Institute’s access technology specialist in Santa Barbara.

“Once I put my hand on the pad, piece of cake,” said Benavidez.

Michael Lazarovitz , Braille Institute’s Executive Director, said you don’t have to know Braille to use it.

There is also large print, a sip-n-puff ventilator plug, and a foot pedal attachment.

The Help America Vote Act paved the way for accessible voting machines years ago,

Elections officers hope by raising awareness about the ones they have at every polling place.

Awareness could increase voter turnout by making going to the polls less intimidating.

Joe Holland, Santa Barbara County’s Registrar said, “If they have disabilities come into one of our 87 polling places and we’ll have this machine there waiting for you.”

Benavidez says he’ll vote this way on Election Day, then he joked about Mad magazine mascot Alfred E. Newman being his write-in candidate.

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