Guide for voters with a learning disability launched ahead of local elections

By agency reporter
March 24, 2018

A new easy read guide for voters with a learning disability has been launched by the Electoral Commission and Mencap, to help increase understanding of how to register and vote in the upcoming elections. Local elections take place across parts of England, including London, on Thursday 3 May 2018.

This is the fourth guide that the two organisations have jointly produced ahead of an electoral event. It provides information about what the local elections are for, how to register to vote and how to cast a vote securely and with confidence.

Michelle, a campaigner for Mencap who has a learning disability, said, “People with a learning disability have the same right to vote as everyone else so you can make change happen. Voting gave me more than a say in who runs the country or my local council, it also gave me confidence.”

The Commission estimates that one in four people with a learning disability are not registered to vote. 

Emma Hartley, Head of Campaigns at the Electoral Commission, said, “There should be no barriers for anyone with a disability to being able to cast their vote with confidence. With many local authorities across England holding local elections in May, it’s vital that people with a learning disability are provided with accessible information to help them and to ensure they are registered to vote by the 17 April deadline so they can vote on 3 May.”

Ismail Kaji, Parliamentary Support Officer at Mencap, said,Many people with a learning disability feel they are not listened to and excluded from society. This must change and it’s why I think it’s so important we make ourselves heard at the local elections on 3 May. Many decisions made by local government affect people with a learning disability in a big way, like decisions about social care. This jargon free guide with images helps people understand the process and cast their vote, so they can make their voices heard.”

After the 2017 General Election, the Commission sent out a questionnaire asking people with different disabilities to tell us about their experiences of registering to vote and voting.

Their views informed the Commission’s recent ‘Elections for everyone’ report, which made recommendations to political parties and candidates, the UK’s governments, those running elections and support and care workers, to help ensure elections are accessible for everyone and they have a good experience of voting.

Any voter with a disability is entitled to:

  • Request assistance to mark the ballot paper. This could be asking the Presiding Officer at the polling station to mark the ballot paper for them; bringing a close family member who’s over 18 to help them vote; or bringing someone eligible to vote at the election (such as a support worker).
  • Request a tactile voting device. This is fixed onto the ballot paper so visually impaired people can mark their ballot paper.
  • Request to see a large print version of the ballot paper for reference. This should be clearly displayed in the polling station and a copy can be given to a voter to take into the polling booth to assist them to mark their ballot paper.
  • Request assistance to gain access to the polling station. Returning Officers must consider accessibility requirements when planning for elections. If a voter cannot enter the polling station because of a physical disability, the Presiding Officer may be able to take the ballot paper to the voter.

* People can find out if they have elections in their area here 

* The Easy Read Guide to voting in the local elections May 2018 is here

* Anyone not yet registered to vote can apply online here before the 17 April deadline.

* The Electoral Commission https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/

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