Casting your vote with confidence – support available for voters with visual impairments at Thursday’s local elections
Published: 26 Apr 2019
With one week to go before polling day for local elections across much of England, the Electoral Commission is reminding voters with a visual impairment about the support that will be available in polling stations to help ensure they can cast their vote with confidence.
A range of resources and support will be available for anyone who goes into the polling station to cast their vote on Thursday 2 May including tactile voting devices and large print versions of the ballot paper.
Ailsa Irvine, Director of Electoral Administration and Guidance at the Electoral Commission said:
“Everyone should be able to participate in elections and cast their vote with confidence. Sadly, we know that some blind and partially sighted people have not always had the best experience at their polling station in the past. We have provided guidance to local elections staff to help them make sure their polling stations are accessible. Anyone who wants to know more about what help and support will be available at their polling station can contact their local council for more information.”
Hugh Huddy, a campaigner for the Royal National Institute of Blind People, who is blind has shared his experiences of voting in a polling station. Hugh’s video has been shared with electoral administrators so it can be used in training sessions with polling station staff.
Any voter with sight loss is entitled to:
- A tactile voting device. This is a template which is fixed onto the ballot paper so that people with sight loss can mark it themselves.
- A large print sample version of the ballot paper. This should be clearly displayed in the polling station and a copy should also be available for a voter to take into the polling booth to help them to mark their ballot paper.
- Help to cast their vote. Voters can ask the member of staff who is in charge of the polling station to help them mark their ballot paper; or bring someone with them who is over 18 to help them cast their vote.
- Assistance to gain access to the polling station. Local election teams must consider accessibility requirements when planning for elections.
More information on voting in the local elections can also be found on the Commission’s Your Vote Matters website.
Notes to editors
1. The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. We work to promote public confidence in the democratic process and ensure its integrity by:
- enabling the delivery of free and fair elections and referendums, focusing on the needs of electors and addressing the changing environment to ensure every vote remains secure and accessible
- regulating political finance – taking proactive steps to increase transparency, ensure compliance and pursue breaches
- using our expertise to make and advocate for changes to our democracy, aiming to improve fairness, transparency and efficiency
The Commission was set up in 2000 and reports to the UK and Scottish parliaments.
2. Our “Elections for everyone” report has looked at the problems voters with a disability have when they vote and how they would like to see things change for the better.
We recommend that:
- Care and support workers need to know how they can support the people they care for when they vote
- People running elections need to understand the needs of people with disabilities so they can support them and make it easy for them to register to vote and to vote
- Candidates and parties should make sure information is in easy to read formats and available in good time before the election so people have the time to read it
- When political parties publish their manifestos, they should make sure accessible formats are available at the same time
- Government should make changes to election forms so they can be easily understood; look at different ways that people with disabilities can vote so they have greater flexibility and choice; and change the law so that people with disabilities have more choice about who they can take to the polling station with them