During the primaries to be held this Sunday, August 9, the Vote by Phone system will be available for voters with disabilities, reported today the Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities (DPI) and its Division of Protection and Defense of Persons with Disabilities, through its coordinator, Gabriel Esterrich Lombay who,
This division administers the Program for the Protection and Defense of the Rights of Voters with Disabilities (PAVA Program
“This system is a voting alternative for voters with disabilities in compliance with the Help America Vote Act (hereinafter“ HAVA ”). Section 301, 3 (b) of HAVA establishes that the use of at least one direct recording electronic voting system or another voting system equipped for people with disabilities is a requirement in each electoral college ”added the acting attorney of the Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities (DPI), Gabriel E. Corchado Méndez in written statements.
The coordinator of the PAVA Program thanked the efforts of the State Elections Commission of Puerto Rico (CEE ) for having this tool available to voters with disabilities.
“We understand that it is important that voters with disabilities who so wish, use the Vote by Phone and inform us of their experiences with the use of it.  This system will be located in the school with easy access, if it is not available it is important that you request it from the school officials since it is required by HAVA and it is your right ”he said.  Esterrich added that the Program is working with the electoral commissioners of both parties that participate in the primaries.
“Our goal is that voters with disabilities have an accessible process where they can vote secretly and independently as required by HAVA ”he said.
The voting centers can be located on the Facebook page of the Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities, on the Internet page of the State Elections Commission ( ceepur .org ), or by sending a text message to 787-338-1616.
In the case of the advance votes of the Popular Democratic Party, these will take place tomorrow, Saturday, August 7, in the centers of voting that informs the EEC listing. In the case of the New Progressive Party primary, those voters who could not vote last week will be granted a preferential turn.
The DPI added that the voting process will be safe. That person who arrives will see a line that appears to be long, but it is not. This is because each voter will be 6 feet apart. Upon arrival at the college they will see the officials with the proper protections such as masks and faceshields, they will also examine the finger to see if it is inked, then they will be provided hand sanitizer or hand sanitizer, they will deliver their electoral card, sign and receive the ballots.
Once you receive the ballots, you can cast your vote and enter it into the electoral counting machine. Gloves will be offered as an additional security measure, however, voters with disabilities who for any reason cannot use them may not be forced to do so. The use of masks will be mandatory.
Those voters who suffer from skin conditions or blind people who wish to read braille and therefore cannot use gloves, will have to be allowed to vote without gloves.
Finally, PAVA Program officials will be conducting monitoring throughout the Island to verify compliance with accessibility matters.
“We will have personnel throughout Puerto Rico, verifying the location of the College of Easy access. We will be verifying that they have available the Vote by Phone, the Braille system for the blind and that, if there is no reserved parking, a temporary one is created for the event so that the process is accessible to all voters with disabilities. The purpose is to evaluate the process and offer recommendations ”, adds the press release.
Any voter with a disability who experiences a problem with the electoral process can contact us at 787-725-2333 or 787-523 -8910 (deaf people) and ask about the PAVA Program or you can write to us by email [email protected][email protected]. They can also contact the State Elections Commission at 787-777-8682 or online at www.ceepur.org .