Polling places in Minnesota have a ballot-marking machine that can help you mark your ballot.
What is a ballot marking machine?
Ballot marking machines give you privacy and independence if you cannot, or choose not, to vote using a pen.
After you put your paper ballot into the machine, it will display your ballot in large print or with a high-contrast background. It can read the ballot to you through headphones, with or without the screen on. It will prompt you to make choices on a braille keypad, touchscreen (if applicable), or sip-and-puff device.
After you make your choices, the machine will fill in the correct ovals on your ballot and return your ballot to you. You can then place the ballot into the ballot box.
Any voter can choose to use a ballot marking machine to complete their ballot. Except for stand-alone township elections in townships with fewer than 500 registered voters, ballot marking machines must be present in every polling place.
Types of ballot marking machines
There are four ballot marking devices in use in Minnesota:
- OmniBallot — used in Anoka, Becker, Benton, Blue Earth, Brown, Carlton, Carver, Cass, Chippewa, Clay, Cook, Douglas, Goodhue, Hennepin, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Jackson, Kanabec, Lac Qui Parle, Lake of the Woods, Le Sueur, Lyon, Lincoln, Martin, McLeod, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Mower, Nicollet, Nobles, Pennington, Pine, Pipestone, Polk, Redwood, Rice, Rock, Roseau, St. Louis (partial), Stearns, Swift, Todd, Wabasha, Waseca, Watonwan, Wilkin, and Wright Counties
- ImageCast Evolution — used in Aitkin, Crow Wing, Dakota, Mahnomen, Scott, and Sherburne Counties
- Verity TouchWriter — used in Big Stone, Chisago, and Ramsey Counties
- AutoMARK — used in Beltrami, Clearwater, Cottonwood, Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Grant, Houston, Kandiyohi, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake, Marshall, Murray, Norman, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Pope, Red Lake, Renville, Sibley, St. Louis (partial), Steele, Stevens, Traverse, Wadena, Washington, Winona, and Yellow Medicine counties
While each machine may have its own features, all of the ballot marking machines in Minnesota will:
- Allow selections by touching the screen (if applicable) or pressing braille keys on the keypad.
- Read the ballot to you through headphones, while you mark the ballot with the braille keypad.
- Allow you to turn the screen off for privacy.
- Warn you about making ballot marking errors, such as voting for more than one party's candidates in a partisan primary election.
- Print your choices on the ballot.