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Engineering Professor’s Software Empowers Voters with Disabilities

Dr. Juan Gilbert_UF College of Engineering Faculty

Juan Gilbert, Chair of Computer & Information Science & Engineering, developed Prime III, a software enabling voters with disabilities to easily participate in the electoral process. The software was created with the help of more than a dozen research assistants as well as a $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Currently, a disabled voter is required to use a separate machine, which poll workers may or may not know how to set up or operate. Prime III lets everyone vote on the same machine–even if the voter can’t see, hear, or has no arms. Voters cast ballots by tapping a touch screen or speaking into a microphone. Those who have problems speaking can blow into the microphone and those with vision impairments receive instructions via headphones.

“Prime III is an open source, multilingual, universally designed voting system,” Gilbert said. “We developed this system to allow all voters to use the same technology, independent of their ability or disability. We didn’t want a separate, but equal voting scenario.”

So far, the software has been used in elections in Wisconsin, Oregon, and New Hampshire, where one4all powered by Prime III will be used in this year’s presidential election. Prime III is now also available on GitHub. Anyone with questions about Prime III may contact Dr. Gilbert at the Wertheim College of Engineering.