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Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada – Following the Pilot Project on the Use of an Assistive Voting Device in the November 29, 2010, By-election Held in Winnipeg North

4. Implementation of the Assistive Voting Device in the By-election

The AVDs used in Winnipeg North were designed for persons with visual impairments or limited dexterity (see Section 2).

The devices were placed in locations serving a significant number of electors – that is, at all advance polls, the local Elections Canada office, and seven central polling sites on voting day serving 35 percent of the electorate in Winnipeg North. Transfer certificates were available for electors at other polls who might wish to use the device.

The deployment, installation and operation of the AVDs required significant human resources investments. Several Elections Canada staff members received training to act as AVD attendants at polling sites, and were flown to Winnipeg for advance and ordinary polling days. Special ballot coordinators appointed by the returning officer performed this function at the local Elections Canada office. Dominion Voting Systems staff members were on site to set up the equipment and provide technical support.

When electors arrived at advance or ordinary polling sites, the information officer greeted them and directed them to the appropriate deputy returning officer, who asked every elector if he or she required assistance. Electors who indicated that they required assistance could choose to use the AVD or another of the services offered to help make voting accessible (see box, p. 7). Electors who decided on the AVD were accompanied to the device. They had the option to bring a friend, family member or other observer, as recommended by the Senate committee.

The AVD attendant provided basic instructions and confirmed the interface that the elector would prefer to use during the voting session. The attendant remained available to assist the elector or answer questions, if required. Electors were informed that they would hear the entire list of candidates, as recommended by the Senate committee, but they could select the candidate of their choice at any time. The device confirmed the name of the selected candidate before the ballot was printed. Electors could change their choice of candidate at that time.

When it came out of the printer, the marked ballot was refolded under a secrecy box in such a way as not to reveal the elector's voting choice. The elector was then accompanied back to the deputy returning officer so that the ballot could be placed in the ballot box and counted according to the usual process.

At the sites where an AVD was available, 25 people said that they required assistance to vote. Of these, five electors opted for the device – three during advance polls and two on ordinary polling day. All the electors who chose the AVD had a visual impairment and used the device's manual "audio-tactile" interface. No electors used the device during the 10-day period that it was available at the local Elections Canada office.

Twenty of the 25 electors who requested assistance chose other voting methods. One used a template, while 19 requested assistance to mark their ballot or else referred to the large-print ballot in the polling site when voting.