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Lawmaker Sponsors Bill To Allow Blind Coloradans To Vote Privately

DENVER (CBS4) - Blind Coloradans say the state's move to all- mail ballots six years ago left them behind. They're pushing for a bill to change that.

More than dozen blind Coloradans made their way to a committee room at the State Capitol Monday, and made a case for a bill giving them the same voting rights as every one else.

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"The right to vote is a fundamental right in our democracy and through our current election system that right is being partially denied to a blind person," said Scott LaBarre, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado. LaBarre says he has voted in every election since he was 18, but since Colorado transitioned to all-mail ballots, his wife has had to help him vote if he wants to do so at home.

"But it's kind of funny because we would argue over the ballot issues and to this day I'm not sure she voted the way I wanted or not."

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Joking aside, LaBarre says technology now exists to allow blind Coloradans to vote privately from their homes.

"There is software called text to speech software that you can use on your laptop or your iPhone or whatever, and it essentially reads to you what is on the screen so what you can do is go through the ballot and mark your choices."

State Sen. Jessie Danielson is carrying a bill that would require the Secretary of State to enable that technology to be used in elections.

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"If there's any kind of a barrier to vote a private ballot because you have disability, we need to do away with that. We need to do better," she said.

LaBarre is hoping it will be done by the 2020 election.

"I hope quite frankly that 2020 is indeed a record breaking election. If you will, we're talking about 20-20, you know? Perfect vision. What kind of vision are we going to have for our country?"

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The Secretary of State's Office is concerned about getting the technology in place by next year's election. Maryland and New Mexico already use it.

Danielson says Maryland has offered to share it with us. Her bill passed its first committee unanimously.

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