Five Cedars Group, Inc.

Empowering Voters with disabilities

News: California Certification!

Accessible Ballots Supported on Multiple Digital Platforms.

HTML ballots can be marked on PC's, Mac's, iPads, iPhones, Surface tablets, etc.

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HTML Ballots Work With Multiple Screen Readers.

Unsighted voters mark their ballots using industry standard screen readers.
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Designed to Assist Voters With Disabilities.

Ballots are designed to work with bi-modal assistive devices.

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Large Print Ballots for Voters With Low Vision.

Large PDF ballots (11"x 17", 18pt font) are generated for voters needing larger, easier to read fonts.

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Works Within Vote-by-Mail and UOVACA Processes.

Besides VBM, AFB ballots also support military and other overseas voters.

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Follows NIST's Security Guideline Recommendations.

Voter's ballot summaries are reproduced before entering a certified election system.

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AFB Ballots work with
assistive devices

Any peripheral device that can connect to a USB port can be used by a voter to navigate and make ballot selections:
Sip and Puff, Jelly Beans, Joysticks, etc.

Accessible Ballot Testimonials

“The Alternate Format Ballot has given me the ability to do something I’ve never been able to do in my 18 years of being a registered voter–it has provided me the opportunity to mark my ballot privately and independently.”

Angel C. Hale, Training Center Director, Oregon Commission for the Blind

“Being able to vote independently as a blind citizen is a gift I highly treasure: I am able to vote in the privacy of my own home without assistance from anyone else. Voting is a privilege I highly treasure and am honored to be able to do it with dignity, safety, efficiency and fun!”

Mary Lee Turner, Oregon Voter

“Five Cedars Group has consistently provided outstanding customer service for their Alternate Format Ballot (AFB) to Multnomah County and the state of Oregon. They have done an excellent job of adapting the AFB to all platforms including tablet technology running both Mac and Windows operating systems. Our AFB voters have provided nothing but positive feedback about the product and the ability to vote independently, privately, and remotely.”

Tim Scott, Director, Multnomah County Elections, Oregon

“Even though the majority of Oregon voters have their ballots delivered by mail, I consider the AFB ballots an additional tool. Having alternatives like an HTML and large print ballot to meet the needs of voters only enhances our Vote-by-Mail process.”

Mickie Kawai, Elections Division Manager, Washington County, Oregon

The Ballot is a single HTML file!

Because the digital AFB is a single HTML file it does not require a live internet connection for the voter to use it. It can be downloaded by the voter or emailed to them to mark at their leisure.

Two ballot formats: HTML and Large Print Ballots!

Five Cedars Group's Alternate Format Ballot Generator process creates accessible HTML and large print (PDF) ballots from sets of county XML or CSV ballot defintion files. The ballot definition files are exported from the state or county’s system insuring the AFB's are identical in content with the traditional printed ballots. The HTML ballots contain voter instructions, candidate races, ballot measures and office holder recalls.


It is important to note that each HTML ballot is contained in a single HTML file and requires no active internet connection while the voter is marking, checking and printing their ballot summary. This allows ballots to be downloaded, emailed or otherwise stored on media for access and use in remote locations.


The HTML ballots leverage W3C and WCAG 2.0 AA Accessibility Guidelines. Ballots generated by the AFB Ballot Generator perform all the functions required to meet accessibility standards outlined in NIST’s report “Principles and Guidelines for Remote Ballot Marking Systems” such as:

The large print PDF ballots sizes can be selected as either 8.5" by 14" (16 point font) or 11" by 17" (18 point font). The font used on these ballots was developed by the American Printing House for the Blind specifically for low vision readers.


The HTML ballots are self-contained, meaning once they are loaded into a browser they do not request any data, graphics or navigation from a server. Once a voter receives a ballot, there is no internet connection required. Voters can mark their choices, print their Ballot Summary and complete the voting process, literally anywhere. All the ballot’s functions are self-contained in the JavaScript contained in the ballot. This is important for the following reasons:

HTML Ballot Summary or Large Print Ballot ready to be mailed

Both AFB formats work within existing USPS, fax or email ballot return processes, accommodating vote-by-mail, absentee or UOCAVA voters.

Our Story

The Five Cedars Group was founded by John Schmitt in 1993, several years after leaving a technical marketing position at Intel. Five Cedars began as a digital marketing agency. Over the years, we grew to be one of Portland’s premier digital agencies with clients such as Intel, Microsoft, Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU), Elemental Technologies, The Lemelson Foundation, etc. Five Cedars (previously known as OakTree Digital) completed well over 3,000 client projects as diverse as e-learning progress tracking, to a hospital’s door key tracking and management system, to a HIPPA compliance application, to the Alternate Format Ballot.

In 2007, to meet the requirements of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the Oregon Secretary of State published an RFP for a remotely accessible HTML ballot process for voters with disabilities. They decided to build an accessible ballot that would work with their existing vote by mail process instead of purchasing accessible voting systems for each county office. They wanted voters with disabilities to be able to download an HTML ballot using their own accessible devices from home.

Our proposal won the contract and, in close partnership with the state's HAVA coordinator, the first Alternate Format Ballot (AFB) was developed. Oregon's AFB ballots were first used by voters with disabilities during the May 2008 National Primary.

Over the past nine years, the Alternate Format Ballot has truly touched people’s lives in a positive way. The AFB is an HTML ballot designed specifically for use by voters with disabilities, particularly those with vision or mobility concerns. Besides the 36 counties, Oregon also uses the AFB's for military and overseas voters (UOCAVA).

While building an HTML and large format PDF ballot generation system may seem out-of-place at an internet development agency, the user interfaces, complex JavaScript code, multiple browser testing, and assistive software testing required was not that different than many of the projects we'd successfully delivered to our commericial clients.

Not much different, but so much more meaningful.

In February 2013, after leading the agency for twenty years, John sold the digital business to another Portland based agency so he could pursue his passion: the Alternate Format Ballot.

After keeping a low profile in Oregon for ten years, the Five Cedars Group is now exploring the many opportunities arising as states move to vote-by-mail and look for an accessible ballot solution for their voters with disabilities. We are excited at the prospect of serving voters in other states.

Contact Info:

Five Cedars Group, Inc.

1500 NW Bethany Blvd., Suite 200

Beaverton, OR 97006

503-536-1280

Email: AFB_info@fivecedarsgroup.com