Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Disabled Must Vote

Voters with a disability are being reminded by the Electoral Commission that there should be no barriers to them casting their vote at the General Election on 7 May.

Acting Returning Officers (AROs), who are responsible for the conduct of the poll, must ensure that the voting process is accessible to all. The Electoral Commission has provided guidance to AROs to help them meet their equality obligations and ensure that everyone who is entitled to cast their vote can do so. Polling station staff should also have received training on the assistance that is available to any voter wishing to vote in person at a polling station.
This year, in addition to the Commission’s own public information line (0333 103 1928), the first dedicated helpline for anyone with a learning disability who has questions about casting their vote, or experiences any difficulties in doing so, has been set up by Mencap, a partner of the Electoral Commission. The helpline is also available to the families and carers of people with learning disabilities and polling station staff. The helpline number is 020 7696 5588. In addition, the Commission has produced a joint factsheet with Mencap to remind voters of their rights.

Voters can find the contact details for their local electoral services team at
Any voter with a disability is entitled to:

The right 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’s who eligible to vote at the election. For example, a support worker, as long as they are entitled to vote themselves.
A tactile voting device. This is fixed onto the ballot paper so visually impaired people can mark their ballot paper in secret.

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. But, a voter must still only mark their ballot paper.

Assistance to gain access to the polling station. Returning Officers must consider accessibility requirements when planning for elections and polling stations are selected in consultation with local disability groups. If a voter can’t enter the polling station because of a physical disability, the Presiding Officer may take the ballot paper to the elector.

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