Israel - Empowered and Enfranchised – Legally Blind Vote Unaided.

Of the 24,000 legally blind in Israel 22,000 have the democratic right to vote in Israel’s national elections in addition to thousands more with visual impairment.   However, until this year their votes have not been secret as they needed someone to accompany them in the election booth in order to identify and place the small voting slip with their chosen party’s name in the envelope prior to placing it in the ballot box.

The April 2019 elections saw a major change for vision impaired voters due to the introduction of a pilot scheme enabling them to vote without having to rely on a sighted person to assist them.  Now all voters will enjoy both privacy and independence when voting thanks to a pilot scheme using a world-first technology.

The pilot, initiated by the Knesset Committee for Central Elections together with the Center for the Blind in Israel, enabled the visually impaired to cast their vote using a unique system called MyEye developed by Orcam and especially adapted for the elections.

This revolutionary system requires voters to wear specially designed glasses which photograph the voting slips and read out what is printed to the wearer’s ears until the person identifies the note bearing his chosen party’s name.  Although this technology is available throughout the world for general reading of newspapers, articles etc. this was the first time it had been adapted for election purposes.

Initially 12 polling stations throughout Israel were equipped with the Orcam system allowing all citizens from every walk of life, from North to South, the freedom to vote unaided, independently and in privacy.

Israel’s hope is that this empowering system will be adopted around the world thereby ensuring that visually impaired electorates are fully enfranchised.