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Election Officials Suggest Cutting Early Voting Times

Blind voters use Automark machines to cast an in-person, private ballot Blind voters use Automark machines to cast an in-person, private ballot

Nicole Ebat

LINCOLN, NEB.(KPTM)--A blind woman testifies that her right to vote was violated. It's her next move in her complaint against the state.

Fatos Floyd says she tried to help blind voters cast ballots early in October, only to be told the machines weren't ready for them yet.

State election officials say cutting early voting times would be the solution to this problem.

Deputy Secretary of State Neal Erickson explained during Friday's hearing at the capitol building that the state certifies the ballots 15 days prior to the start of early voting.

During those 15 days, the ballot layouts must be finalized and then programmed into the Automark machines. He said they can't be done at the same time.

"There's not enough time to accomplish the two major tasks that need to be accomplished," said Erickson. "Our office will most likely probably suggest that we shorten that early in-person voting period to be able to accommodate this situation."

Adam Morfeld with Nebraskans for Civic Reform, the group that helped Floyd file the complaint with the state, said that's not the right solution.

"Seven other states are able to successfully implement early voting at the same time or earlier than Nebraska, there's really no reason why we can't maintain our early voting timeline while also complying with federal law," he said.

The 2002 Help America Vote Act requires that machines be available for blind voters at every polling location.

"The question remains as to whether HAVA requires a similar machine be available for early voting," David Snidely Lancaster's Election Commissioner said during the hearing.

"When the early voting started October 1st, they didn't say everybody except blind people," said Floyd. "I had the right to vote from October 1st on anytime I choose to go like anybody else."

A decision must be made on the complaint by early January.

Secretary of State John Gale said this is the first time a Help America Vote Act complaint has been filed in the state.

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