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League of Women Voters

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The voting systems used in Vermont are optical scan, paper ballots and vote by phone.

Optical Scan: With this system, you will receive a card or sheet of paper, which you take over to a private table or booth. The card has the names of the various candidates and ballot measures printed on it. With a pen or pencil you fill in a little box or circle or the space between two arrows. When you are finished filling out all the cards, you may bring the cards over to a ballot box, where poll workers will show you how to put the cards in the box. Or in some places, you may feed the completed cards or papers into a computer device that checks your card or paper right there at the polling place to make sure you have voted the way you want to and counts the votes.

Paper Ballots: Paper ballots are one of the oldest ways of voting in America. They are still used in a few places on Election Day. When you come to the polling place, you will get a paper ballot from the poll worker. You take it to the voting booth, and use a pen or pencil to mark a box next to your candidate and issue choices. You then drop the marked ballot into a sealed ballot box.

Vote by Phone: The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) required states to implement voting systems that are accessible for individuals with disabilities and permit voters who are blind or visually-impaired to cast their votes privately and independently. The vote-by-phone system purchased by the State of Vermont is designed to meet this mandate. When you go to your polling place and check in at the entrance checklist, indicate that you wish to use the vote-by-phone system. A poll worker uses a designated telephone to call the system, enters the poll worker and ballot access IDs to bring up the appropriate ballot, then gives the phone to you and leaves the voting booth. The system reads the ballot to you and, after you makes ballot selections using the telephone key pad, the system prints out a paper ballot at the office of the secretary of state. The paper ballot is automatically scanned and can be played back to you for verification upon your request. You may decide to cast it or discard it and revote.

The vote by phone system permits you to practice voting on the system prior to Election Day. You will be able to use any touchtone telephone to call into the system and practice voting to familiarize yourself with the contests and candidates on your ballot. To try out the system and practice voting your ballot, call your local county clerk to get the ballot access 3 digit # for your voting district. Then call (866) 486-3838 to listen and practice voting on the same ballot that you will hear and vote on Election Day. You can call in and practice as many times as you want.

All phone calls are answered by a computer system located at a secure location controlled by authorized election officials. The computer will only permit access to the system from phone numbers that have been entered into the system prior to the election, and only after the proper poll worker and ballot access ID numbers have been entered. The vote-by-phone system will be pre-tested before every election to ensure accurate programming. The system makes no use of the Internet or any other data network, so the system cannot be hacked. The only system input comes from DTMF tones, the distinct sounds generated by the telephone when its buttons are pressed. The vote-by-phone system produces a voter-verified paper ballot for every vote cast and the process can be monitored by observers.

You can learn more about voting systems by checking out the Elections Assistance Commission's (EAC) resource.

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