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Secretary of State Linda McCulloch Says Voting is a Fundamental Right

January 16, 2009

(Helena) – Secretary of State Linda McCulloch today urged lawmakers to ensure that polling places in Montana have accessible voting equipment for all elections. McCulloch says House Bill 16, which proposes to give elections administrators the authority to determine the use of automark voting machines for local mail-ballot elections, goes against her convictions.

“One of my responsibilities as chief election official is to ensure that every voter at every election across the state has the opportunity to vote privately and independently,” said McCulloch. “The automark machines provide a way for Montanans with disabilities to vote with confidence.”

The automark machine was introduced in Montana in 2006. The innovate technology was designed to help make voting more accessible to Montanans with special needs.

“Voting is a fundamental right, and Montanans with disabilities are entitled to participate in every election,” said McCulloch.

McCulloch said she understands that providing accessible voting equipment for every election puts a burden on local elections officials, and that her opposition to the proposal in no way suggests that current elections administrators are not adequately performing their duties.

“I am committed to working with counties and election administrators to find a solution to the issues associated with making automarks available for all elections,” said McCulloch. “My intention here today is not to criticize the efficient work that they do, but to point out that we are all charged with upholding the democratic process in Montana.”

McCulloch said the State should be assisting in the funding of elections across Montana, because the lack of local election funding makes it difficult to provide accessible voting equipment at all locations. She said everyone benefits from well-run elections.