Ensuring each eligible elector is able to cast a ballot is integral to any vote or election. The Intelivote system has been created ensuring it meets the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) requirements guaranteeing that persons with disabilities and older people with changing abilities due to aging can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the system. Web Accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the web; therefore it is essential that the Web be accessible in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to persons with disabilities. An accessible Web can help persons with disabilities to more actively participate in society, including the ability to cast a vote for a municipal election.
The Intelivote system has been successfully used by disabled individuals in events across Canada. Intelivote’s Voter Module is coded with XHTML transitional document type and conforms to all W3C web standards, as the system is fully accessible by the internet, voters with visual disabilities can vote using screen readers as a result of WCAG-2 compatibility.
Intelivote has been proactive in accommodating persons with disabilities facilitating their comfort and participation when using eVoting services. Intelivote performs regular internal auditing against WCAG-2 and Section 508 standards to ensure our application is addressing the needs of disabled participants.
Election officials who are responsible for conducting an election must have regard for the needs of electors and candidates with disabilities. Municipal elections must provide the public with equal access and an equal opportunity in casting a ballot. By providing electors the choice of voting electronically through the Intelivote Systems application, election officials are providing accessibility to the disabled persons in their community.
The Intelivote system comprises of Internet and Telephone voting capabilities. Persons who are deaf, deafened, oral deaf or hard of hearing may make use of the Internet to cast their ballot for the election with little to no assistance. Persons who have a vision loss disability including total blindness and legal blindness have the ability to use the telephone to cast their ballot for the election. The Intelivote system addresses other types of disabilities (learning, mental health) as described in the website accessibility requirements and telephone operating functions.
Using the Intelivote system, disabled persons are given the capability to vote from the comfort of their own home. Voting from home facilitates the voting process for disabled persons who have mobility restrictions and/or have a difficult time with transportation due to physical disabilities.
Allowing disabled persons to vote from any location and using more than one method, translates through to an increase in the capability of disabled persons to vote without any assistance. This gives them the same independence and privacy in participating in an election as other voters. If disabled persons do still require assistance most municipal offices host a Voter Help Centre where election staff may assist in the voting process. Election officials are then responsible for meeting the accessibility standards required for hosting such Help Centres.
The Intelivote system was also intended to accommodate the older population in the community. Internet and telephone voting allows election staff to travel to senior citizen homes to assist in the voting process to maintain the high participation rates found in electors older than 65 years of age. Seniors residing in retirement homes or other facilities may choose to use the telephone to complete their voting, or election staff may visit the facility with kiosk laptops or tablets wirelessly connected to the Internet as a method for those electors to cast their ballot.
The Intelivote application significantly improves the accessibility of elections without adding additional costs to the election. At the same time, the solution when coupled with election staff support provides an easy to use and dignified opportunity for electors to cast their ballot.