A Senate commitee advanced a measure to expand a pilot program as to allow disabled Utahns to cast a ballot online.
Right now, Utah allows overseas members of the military to vote online in elections. SB 245 expands that to Utah’s disabled population if a county chooses to go that route.
Sheri Newton, with the Disability Law Center, says people with disabilities tend to vote in lower numbers, so the proposal would be a big help.
“Many people with disabilities may find it difficult to get into their polling place,” she said. “Once inside, they may find the voting machines intimidating. We’ve also found that when people use the accessability features on the voting machines, it could be embarassing. People who vote from home are able to use their own equipment.”
Members of the committee raised some issues surrounding privacy and security of online voting. Bill sponsor Sen. Curt Bramble says, since this is a pilot project, it’s worth finding out what works and what doesn’t.
“We currently allow voting by mail,” said Bramble. “There’s no guarantee that the voter is the one marking the ballots. There’s no chain of custody. For a time, those ballots are just sitting in a mailroom somewhere. The hope is with the technology and verification methods we can implement, we will be able to cross that bridge of security and increase voter participation.”
The bill passed out of committee unanimously and now heads to the full Senate.