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Commitment to accessible voting lands Kitsap County Elections national award
PORT ORCHARD — Kitsap County Elections received the 2014 Independence Award from the Elections Center Aug. 18 for its innovative accessible voting programs.
Respected nationally, Kitsap County provides numerous accessible voting options for voters with disabilities including an accessible online voters’ guide and ballot delivery system, and early accessible voting at locations throughout the county.
Kitsap’s reputation as a leader in accessible voting is a direct result of its commitment to collaborating with the Voter Access Advisory Committee. The committee is comprised of a diverse group of accessibility advocates, community leaders, and elected officials. Members include the current president of the Washington Council of the Blind, Cindy Van Winkle, who was named an Outstanding County Volunteer by Kitsap County Commissioners earlier this year.
“The mission of this office is to ensure our services are available and accessible to all citizens, regardless of disability. The working relationship we have with the Voter Access Committee optimizes this commitment,” said Auditor Walter E. Washington.
Feedback from the committee has resulted in numerous improvements such as expanding early accessible voting to branches of Olympic College and Kitsap Regional Library, and the installation of Braille signage on ballot drop boxes throughout the county. Kitsap County Elections also regularly collaborates with the committee on newsletter articles, guest editorials and public speaking engagements promoting accessible voting.
“It is such a tremendous honor to receive this award and a testament to the commitment of our committee members who receive no compensation for their service,” said Kitsap County Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore.
Kitsap County led a coalition of 16 Washington counties receiving a $750,000 federal grant to implement accessible online ballot delivery systems. Gilmore is on the National Federation of the Blind Mobile Voting Work Group promoting the implementation of accessible online ballot delivery systems like the one used in Kitsap County.
Each year the Election Center accepts professional practice papers from jurisdictions across the county. They give awards in seven categories including the Independence Award, which is a new category this year.
This is the 30th year of the Professional Practices Program. To learn more about the Election Center, go online to www.electioncenter.org.