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Elections in UK becoming increasingly inaccessible to disabled people

A proportion of disabled people in the UK are struggling to vote in general elections because of a lack of available information and accessibility around polling stations.

The Electoral Commission used evidence from people with physical and learning disabilities, as well as those living with mental illness, and discovered that some people find the process of voting difficult while others are unable to vote at all.

‘Elections for Everyone’, a report from the UK’s independent election overseer, found that some people could not understand the wording of voting forms, while others did not know they could ask for help or use specialist devices to make the process more accessible.

In response, the commission recommended a number of changes to deal with the issues that were highlighted focused on political parties and candidates, central government, and those responsible for elections at local level.

Most of the suggestions involve making information more available for carers and people living with disabilities, while another urges the government to make forms easier for people to understand and clarify laws on who can accompany people into booths.

In addition, the report asks that the date of elections and the location of polling stations be made as accessible as possible.

“It is disappointing that we continue to hear about people with disabilities being unable to vote in secret, or even turned away from a polling station,” commented Sir John Holmes, chair of the Electoral Commission.

“This cannot be allowed to happen in our democracy. Voters with a disability should have access to the right support to ensure they can cast their vote with confidence.

“The commission will step up its work with the UK’s governments, disability organisations and everyone involved in running elections to ensure there are no barriers to voting.”

Holmes added that allowing disabled people to vote early or to choose which polling station they use could make a huge difference, and all these options should be considered by government in the future.

Top image: Bizoon

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Marian Gaff   25/11/2017 at 15:00

I applied for a many years ago, when the mobile classroom used as my local polling station became inaccessible due to my athritic knee. I have voted by post ever since, so the physical barrier for me has been removed. Hovever, I recognize that others face different barriers which should be removed too.

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