Kamloops first in B.C. with ballots for blind

Kamloops Daily News
October 17, 2011 01:00 AM

Todd Harding, chair of the Mayors Advisory Committee for Person's with Disabilities, holds up a sample election ballot in braille Monday outside City Hall that could be used in Kamloops on election night for the visually impaired.

Kamloops is being touted as the first community in B.C. to offer independent voting to the visually impaired.

Todd Harding, chairman of the mayor's advisory committee for persons with disabilities, said for the first time in the 31 years he's been blind, he'll be able to vote in a civic election without help.

Ballots and templates for the visually impaired were used in the last B.C. provincial election, and cities in other parts of Canada have had them.

"It was fabulous," he said of being able to vote without his wife's help in the provincial election.

But Kamloops is the first municipality in B.C. to provide it, he said Monday while on the steps outside city hall.

Harding estimated there are 300 people in Kamloops who are legally blind.

What they will receive at all of the advance and election-day polls is a voting ballot, a template that lines up the holes to be marked with their candidates of choice, and a Braille list of the candidates for mayor, councillor and school trustee.

In the booth, Harding said he'll find the names of the candidates he wants, count down how far they are starting at the top, and mark the ballot accordingly.

City deputy corporate clerk Cindy Kennedy said the ballots and templates cost less than $1,000. Each polling station will have one package, and more will be available if needed.

She credited Harding for his determination and work on the issue with getting it done for this year's civic election.

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