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Meeting Summary – Annual General Meeting of the Advisory Committee of Political Parties – June 21–22, 2010

Assistive Voting Devices

In order to increase accessibility of the electoral procress and voting itself, an assistive voting device that allows voters with physical disabilities to cast their ballots independently will be piloted in a by-election, with the prior approval of the appropriate House and Senate committees. It would allow an elector with a physical disability to mark a ballot independently, without compromising the secrecy of his or her ballot. This new mechanism, which was demonstrated to ACPP members, allows those persons with disabilities to maintain their dignity while voting by utilizing the device to mark their ballot.

Discussion with ACPP Members

Members voiced their concern over the $24,000 price of the device and recommended that Elections Canada break down the cost of supplying the device to all constituencies across Canada, while taking into consideration the number of electors utilizing this new tool, and perhaps come up with a less costly initiative. Nonetheless, members felt that accessibility of polling stations was a fundamental right that deserved to be pursued despite the cost – especially considering the aging population of Canada.

Elections Canada, as Mr. Rennie Molnar explained, will be engaging the community of persons with disabilities to inform them of this new voting option and to get their advice regarding placement and communications. Should the by-election pilot be successful, then a longer-term project would be initiated to make the technology available nationally. This project would include a full business case and would also explore opportunities for collaborative work with provincial electoral bodies that may result in shared costs. Legislative changes may also be required for this.