Industries For the Blind Among Sites Under Consideration For Early Voting

Industries For the Blind Among Sites Under Consideration For Early Voting

4:32pm Jul 13, 2016
Anastasia Powell, Adult Program Manager for the Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, stands in the room that would be an early voting site if it is approved by the Forsyth Board of Elections. (Paul Garber / WFDD News)

The lineup of early voting sites in Forsyth County will likely be decided this week, and one of the proposed locations is at Winston-Salem's Industries for the Blind.

Election officials have already made a site visit to the building off of SIlas Creek Parkway near University Parkway. They found adequate space inside the facility, but parking remains a concern.

More than 100 potential county voters work at Industries for the Blind, a non-profit organization that provides jobs and training to the blind and visually impaired.

Anastasia Powell is an adult program manager with the organization. She says one of the biggest obstacles to voting that blind people face is getting to the polls, and having an early voting site at a place where so many of them already come to work would be helpful.

"I think you would have a very large turnout for people coming to express their right to vote,” she says. “People will feel good about themselves, they will feel independent. And they will be very appreciative that the challenge of transportation was overcome by the polling site being here."

All polling places are required by law to have audio balloting available for blind voters. The ballots are privately read through a headset, and voters make their choices using a Braille-enhanced keyboard.

Powell and Chris Flynt, director of low-vision programs for IFB, say that during the primary they went to cast their ballots during the early voting period and the audio ballots weren't working. They returned a few days later and they worked properly.

Tim Tsujii is the county elections director. He says parking remains the biggest logistical issue with the IFB building. He also notes that the nearby Brown-Douglas Recreation Center has also served as an early voting site in the past, which may lead to some confusion as to where voters should go to cast their ballots.

It will be up to the three-member county Board of Elections to decide where to put this year's voting sites. They’ll meet Friday. Any sites they select are subject to state approval.

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