At PFS we manufacture the European and local councils election selector for the partially blind. It is a polypropylene device, which is called the ‘selector’, and it enables blind or partially blind people to vote without the aid of an assistant.
Because of a change in the law in 2011, the Home Office required a way of helping blind and partially sighted people to vote without assistance. Traditionally they had to take an assistant into the booth to help in casting their vote. The law insists that all ballot papers are the same so a non electronic system had to be devised.
The Home Office approached Goodwin Product Design, of Surrey, to design a way of aiding partically blinded voters in the polling stations. The ballot paper needed to stay the same, so a non-electronic device was needed. What Goodwin created as the Selector.
Goodwin Product Design say “Our design solution is a simple, low cost, die cut, sheet plastic template with a series of ‘doors’ with integral hinges, each one marked, with an embossed number and with the Braille equivalent, that fits over the standard ballot paper. The voter can locate the correct door by touch and thus make their mark in confidence. Because of its flexible, low tech tooling Selector can be made and cut to length to suit the size of any ballot paper.”
The Selector can be adapted for different styles of ballots. If the voter needs a second choice, where they are given a square for first choice, a circle is then given to locate the box for the second choice.
The device consists of a number of flaps. Each flap covers a box when the device is fixed onto a ballot paper and is numbered (the number contrasts well against the white background of the ballot paper and can also be felt by the finger as it is raised).
The flaps on the device cover each of the boxes on the ballot paper in which the vote is marked. The number that corresponds to the box covered by a particular flap is embossed in black on the flap’s surface. The number shows up well against the white background of the ballot paper and is also raised so it can be identified by touch.
Once the voter knows which number his/her desired candidate/party corresponds to, he/she casts his/her vote using the device by lifting the relevant flap so that he/she knows where to make his/her mark.
In the United Kingdom, all polling stations are legally required to provide a tactile voting device to any visually impaired voter.