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RE: E-voting: good for disabled community

From: Simon White <simon.white@jkd.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 3 May 2002 08:45:33 +0100
Message-ID: <FDFC0668A850D246BC4231715D94904E0CD3FC@uranus.jkd.co.uk>
To: "Scarlett Julian (ED)" <Julian.Scarlett@sheffield.gov.uk>, "WAI List (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Dear Julian,
Thanks for the clarification. It is such a shame that something that is so obviously a good thing is used by a PR machine and manipualted in such a way that people like myself think that there are projects out there that can help bring services and information to a wider audience when it seems that, from your comments (and I can only assume as it is Sheffield that you have seen this product at work), it is not all it is cracked up to be.

My apologies to all if this kind of news is more depressing than it is uplifting. I wonder, Julian, if there is somewhere that we on this list can get to see this *wonderful* voting system in action and see how your comments sit with the Guardian article I posted yesterday. It is not that I disbelieve you; in my short time working in this arena I find that most next great things are not what they seem on the suface and many don't work for those that purport to.

Well, before this turns into a rant I should get on with my work. Thanks to all for comments.
Kind regards


-----Original Message-----
From: Scarlett Julian (ED) [mailto:Julian.Scarlett@sheffield.gov.uk]
Sent: Friday, May 03, 2002 08:36
To: WAI List (E-mail)
Subject: RE: E-voting: good for disabled community


no it has *nothing* to do with me. I work for the LEA and this was/is a
wholly corporately driven initiate. 

Although I applaud the project on the grounds of service delivery and
enabling those who find traditional voting methods hard to access I am
dismayed at the accessibility of the site. Have a look; no alt text,
deprecated html, no dtd, no table summaries, no natural language declaration
for body text, no labels for form elements, absolute font sizes....oh, I
feel like I could go on for hours doing this. 

If anybody connected with the site reads this and would like to respond to
the points above (in particular, some sort of justification for the
inaccessibility)then feel free. 


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Simon White [mailto:simon.white@jkd.co.uk]
> Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2002 5:58 PM
> To: WAI List (E-mail)
> Subject: E-voting: good for disabled community
> Is this something that is to do with Julian and his team at 
> Sheffield Council? Even if it is not, it is still a good 
> story at last for the disabled community. Proof, as if we 
> needed it, that accessible services do good for marginalised 
> communities...
> Online vote boost for disabled constituents 
> http://www.guardian.co.uk/internetnews/story/0,7369,708713,00.html
> Simon Parker
> Thursday May 2, 2002 
> When the government invited local councils to run pilots of 
> internet and mobile phone text message voting, it hoped that 
> the experiments would boost turnout. It has done a good deal 
> more than that for wheelchair-bound Dr Christine Barton, who 
> can now vote unaided for the first time in more than five years.
> The benefits of electronic voting for the disabled were an 
> unexpected bonus for officials at Sheffield city council. Dr 
> Barton comments: "I certainly think it's true that this 
> wasn't the prime motivation. When we phoned up to find out if 
> the voting system would link with my voice recognition 
> software, there was a great deal of excitement, especially 
> when they found out it would."
> Dr Barton, unable to move her body below the neck due to 
> multiple sclerosis, has spent the last couple of days testing 
> the voice recognition software that is her link to 
> votesheffield.com - the website that allows voters in the 
> town's Hallam, Manor and Nether Edge wards the chance to vote online.
> A member of the General Social Care Council, which regulates 
> social workers, Dr Barton is used to voting by post, with a 
> personal assistant filling in and witnessing her form.
> Today, all she has to do is log into the website, read out 
> two voter identification numbers and speak the name of the 
> party she wants to select. "It's really good when technology 
> moves in a way that not only opens up things for disabled 
> people, but does the same thing for the non-disabled, too."
> Online voting is just one of the new ways in which people 
> across the country will be able to cast their vote in today's 
> local elections. Liverpool is also putting online and text 
> message voting to trial. Further afield, experiments are 
> forging ahead with postal voting, electronic counting and 
> early opening of polling stations.
> The success of postal voting in a previous set of electoral 
> pilots in 2000 appears to have established the principle that 
> people will vote more often if it is made easier for them to do so. 
> This year, councils using the early all-postal ballots are 
> already reporting soaring turnout. In the district of 
> Chorley, Lancashire, turnout had risen by nearly 20 points to 
> 53% with two days left to vote.
> Is the answer to low turnout really as simple as making it 
> easier to vote? Not according to Tallyn Grey, who turns 18 
> today and will be taking advantage of Sheffield's experiment 
> to vote using a computer kiosk in the town centre.
> "People are not voting more because they don't like the 
> messages the parties are putting out, or think they're not 
> represented or don't think there's any ideology that the 
> parties stand for," he says.
> Mr Grey admits that he would have voted anyway. So would Dr 
> Barton. Both think the new voting methods could improve 
> turnout, and the evidence so far suggests they are probably right.
> But no amount of electronic gimmickry changes the fact that 
> more than half of voters said that local politics made no 
> difference to their lives, according to a recent NOP poll. 
> And no amount of technical innovation will answer Tallyn 
> Grey's fundamental accusation that the parties, and not the 
> public, might be the problem.
> --------------------------------------------------------------
> ----------------------
> Simon White
> Copywriter
> James Kelsey Design (JKD)
> Westminster Business Square
> 1-45 Durham Street
> London
> SE11 5JH
> Tel:  020 7793 9399
> Fax: 020 7793 9299
> Web: www.jkd.co.uk
> --------------------------------------------------------------
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Received on Friday, 3 May 2002 03:45:35 UTC

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