On August 10, the Central Election Commission of Georgia (CEC) conducted pilot testing for a new tactile ballot guide for the upcoming October elections. The CEC met with approximately 25 voters with visual disabilities to test a potential new guide ahead of the elections.
The tactile ballot guide, which is a unique design for use in Georgia, provides the opportunity for voters who are blind to vote independently and in secret. To use the device, a ballot is placed in the guide, then an audio recording describes the parties and candidates that correspond to the holes on the left side of the guide.
Head of Coordination for the Management and Reporting Department Sophio Sitchinava, who also serves as the head of the CEC Working Group on Disability Inclusion, led a discussion and election simulation with the Union of the Blind. The CEC made clear that it would not adopt the template without the consent of the disability rights community. Although the group was concerned at first that the guide would not be easy to use, after trying it in the simulation, many participants noted that they liked the independence they had using the guide. One participant who did not know how to read braille said that this ballot guide would be useful to him.
The CEC took note of all the feedback from participants and will use it to determine next steps for the guide.