Judge: Special Vote Machines for Blind, Disabled

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Duval County (search) to install special voting machines for blind and disabled voters in time for the November election.

The county claims that installing the machines could cost millions and that it doesn't have enough time to comply. It immediately began crafting an appeal.

To comply with the order, the county would have to install 57 touchscreen voting machines in one-fifth of the country's precincts, which use optical scan machines.

"If we ordered them right now, they'd take a month to get here," said Jacksonville Assistant General Counsel Scott Makar.

But U.S. District Judge Henry Adams said lawyers for disabled voters provided enough evidence at a hearing last week to persuade him to issue the order.

The ruling stems from a 2001 suit in which three disabled voters alleged the county's optical scan machines didn't allow them to vote without help. The city must comply even while it appeals, said Ari Rothman, attorney for the disabled voters.

"We're going to ride them pretty hard," he said. "We'll do what we have to to make sure they comply."

Optical scan machines require voters to read their ballot and mark their choices with a pencil. Only 15 Florida counties have touchscreen voting systems, which contain an audio system.

Many counties purchased new systems after the 2000 presidential election recount and the state's subsequent ban on punchcard balloting.