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Advance makes voting machines easier to use

The Trace Research and Development Center demonstrated easy-to-use voting machine design techniques Tuesday, Jan. 30, during a Capitol Hill event focused on electronic voting technology.

The Trace technology, called EZ Access, is a low-cost technique that is easy to use for the average citizen, an aging population and people with disabilities. It can be applied to a wide range of electronic voting systems including handheld tablets, tabletop units and kiosks.

EZ Access voting for governor

Trace Center Director Gregg Vanderheiden recently demonstrated new voting technology to Governor Thompson in Engineering Hall. (large image)

A version was shown from 2-6 p.m. on the QuadMedia Company's portable kiosk at the event, sponsored by the Information Technology Association of America. ITAA organized the Washington, D.C. exhibit of 13 voting machine manufacturers to demonstrate the latest in electronic voting technology.

EZ Access techniques include a simple, straightforward interface that is easy to use for everyone. It has private speech output that can read what is on the screen, simple controls that provide better accuracy when selecting options, and large print options that work even for long candidate lists.

EZ Access can make voting easier for older voters and those with disabilities who had previous difficulty viewing ballot information, voting unassisted and keeping candidate selections private, says Gregg Vanderheiden, director of the Trace Center. These techniques benefit a wide range of people, including those who are aging; those who are blind or have low vision; people with low literacy; or people with physical disabilities. It also makes it easier for an average person to use electronic voting machines.

Engineers at the Trace Center work with manufacturers of voting machines, ATMs, information kiosks, cell phones, and computers to make products easier to use for everyone. A number of Trace accessibility solutions are built into the control panels of every Microsoft and Apple operating system.

The Trace Center is a part of the College of Engineering. Founded in 1971, Trace Center is primarily funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research through the U.S. Department of Education.