Machines for disabled won't be ready for primaries

Mass. is shooting for 1,900 machines available throughout state by November elections, but won't rush the $10mn purchase.

Massachusetts disabled voters won't have appropriate voting machines for primary elections in September, the state's election official said, although he expects them to be in place for the November general election, AP reports.

The problem: It's a hard task to find a universal machine that accomodates all kinds of disabilities, says Secretary of State William Galvin.

"All disabilities are not the same," Galvin said. "Trying to come up with one piece of equipment to accommodate all of them is a challenge."

Galvin said he put out a request for proposals from designers of voting machines last year and received 11 responses. He's narrowed the field to three and is hoping to make a final decision by the end of the week, once he receives a report looking at how well each model is designed to protect against vote tampering.

Under the Helping America Vote Act, the machines are supposed to be up and running for the 2006 federal election. The state is supposed to have one machine in every polling location - that's 1,700 machines and Galvin is shooting to put 1,900 machines out in November at a cost of $10 million in federal funds.

"This is about the disabled. This is about helping them and protecting their ballot," he said. "I am not going to rush into a $10 million purchase without making sure it works."

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