The writer is an elections specialist with the League of Women Voters of New York State.
Tensions are running high in this campaign season and turn-out for the mid-term election probably will be much larger than usual. Keeping in mind the complaints about the new voting system at the time of the primary, citizens can help by being proactive in preparing to use the paper ballot-optical scan voting system. For example:
Videos and brochures: If you have access to the web, review the voting process by using the videos on the state or county Board of Elections websites (e.g., go to Voter Education at www.elections.state.ny.us or at the site for the NY State League of Women Voters: www.lwvny.org . The League and some counties also have provided brochures about the new system.
Instructions at the polling place: Take time to study the large copy of the ballot as well as voting instructions posted on your way into the polling place.
Many voters in the primary elections had problems with the small print on the ballot. Citizens' groups are asking the state legislature to revise the ballot lay-out rules so that they are more user-friendly. For this election, however, you need to take steps to make sure that you can see what you are doing.
Be sure to bring your glasses. If they are not enough, ask for the magnifying aid, OR
Ask to use the "Ballot Marking Device" (BMD). The BMD provides various aids for those with special needs (e.g., audio presentation of the ballot through earphones, a screen allowing enlarging the text, alternative languages; and aids for those with limited dexterity or mobility). The BMD allows you to make your selections using whatever devices you need. In counties using the Image-Cast machine, the BMD then will print your ballot with your choices.