GRAND FORKS Self-Advocacy Solutions-North Dakota recently completed its two-month election trainings, "Project Vote 2012: Count Me In!"
Through North Dakota Protection & Advocacy and the North Dakota Association of Counties, SAS-ND obtained a grant to educate and train persons with developmental disabilities, their allies and advocates around the state in election voting. SAS-ND is a statewide disability advocacy support network, headquartered in Grand Forks.
In August and September, SAS-ND held Train-the-Trainer events in Bismarck and Grand Forks, using Protection & Advocacy and Association of Counties training material along with materials from the North Dakota Secretary of State's office.
Members of Self-Advocacy Solutions’ election training crew, left to right, Shane DeSautel, Carla Tice, Corey Shuler, Amber DeSautel, John Birkeland and Ashley Holt are shown in this photo provided by SAS-ND.
Team Central election trainers included SAS-ND project director Carla Tice, election training coordinator John Birkeland and trainers Ashley Holt and Amber DeSautel of the Election Central Training Hub in Grand Forks. Trainer assistants were Darcy Andahl, Bismarck; Helen Bechold, Rhonda Anderson, Corey Shuler, Pennie Johnson, Joan Schiele, Bobby Vogel and Shane DeSautel, all Grand Forks; Darwin Himes, Grafton; Allan and Lori Marx, Dickinson-Belfield area; Angie Kiefer, Fargo; Sheryl Beard, Williston; and Robert Johnson, Devils Lake.
Trainings were held at 22 sites in Bismarck, Devils Lake, Harvey, Minot, Williston, Grafton, Valley City, Jamestown, Dickinson, Fargo, Wahpeton and Grand Forks. The project ended with more than 650 voter-ready North Dakota self-advocates, support staff and allies trained.
The training included use of the AutoMARK machine. This machine features easy-to-use features for persons with various disabilities who may have had difficulties in casting votes in the past. Voting machines like AutoMARKs feature Braille, touch-screen with large font and contrast change available, headset recording to read aloud the ballot and sip-and-puff and toggle switch devices for those with restrictive use of hands.