General Election 2017: Casting your vote

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The General Election should provide all people of the United Kingdom with the opportunity to exercise their democratic right to vote. However, with some polling stations proving to be difficult to access in the past, it is perfectly understandable that some may be feeling apprehensive about casting their vote on Thursday.

For those who may require additional support when voting, there are numerous laws, guidelines and initiatives in place to ensure that everybody’s needs are met.

First of all, the Electoral Commission, an independent body who oversee elections in this country, state that each polling station should:

  • Be wheelchair accessible
  • Have accessible parking spaces that are clearly marked and regularly monitored
  • Have clear signage with directions steering the voter to the entrance
  • Be adequately lit
  • Have low level polling booths ensuring voters in wheelchairs can vote in secret

Disabled voters may request the assistance of the Presiding Officer to mark the ballot paper for them. Or, alternatively, they may bring someone with them to help them vote. This person must be an immediate family member over 18 years old or a qualified elector.

It is also a legal requirement that every polling station provides a tactile voting device. This is so that someone who is blind or partially sighted can mark the ballot paper themselves once the details on the ballot paper have been read out, either by a companion or by the Presiding Officer.

In addition, every polling station must provide a large print copy of the ballot paper for reference. There must also be a large print reference copy for you to take into the polling both with you, however your vote will still be cast on the standard size ballot paper.

To aid those with learning disabilities and autism, Dimensions UK are running a ‘Love your vote’ campaign. It is their aim that everyone has the chance to have their say on politics. Having helped hundreds of people vote in the past, they are aiming for even higher numbers this time around. They have produced a free Voting Passport  so that people can supply details about how they wish to be supported whilst casting their vote. These passports can be shown to staff at polling stations in order to help them understand how they can help.

Young wheelchair users based in London, Manchester and Birmingham can also benefit from free UberACCESS rides to help them vote. Working with Whizz-Kids, Uber are providing two free £10 codes to each eligible user so young people can be transported to and from their local polling station. Registered users of UberACCESS can receive their codes directly from Uber; those who have not used Uber previously can obtain a code from Whizz-Kids.

If you find it difficult to cast your vote or are unable to access the polling station, you should contact your local authority so that the issue can be resolved. You can also call the Electoral Commission on 0333 103 1928.

We hope that this guide will aid you in placing your vote. If you think there is something else we have missed that would be of benefit to others, please let us know by leaving a comment below.

To further aid you, a selection of excellent voting guides and recommended reading can be found here:

Recommended Reading

Disabled People’s Voting Rights

Your Vote Matters

General Election 2017: Make sure your voice is heard (from Scope)

Dimensions UK ‘Love your vote’ campaign

Voting and Elections (from RNIB)

General Election 2017 (from Leonard Cheshire)

General Election 2017: What are the parties promising disabled people?

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