CHARITIES and ministers are pledging to make voting and elections more accessible to disabled and autistic people.
There are approximately 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. But a survey in 2021 from the national disability charity, United Response, found that only two-thirds of people knew that people with learning disabilities have a legal right to vote.
The survey also highlighted public misconceptions on the practicalities of voting with only half (47%) agreeing that polling stations should be made more accessible to people with physical or learning disabilities.
With local elections on the horizon, for Accessible Voting Day 2022, United Response has written an open letter asking organisations and individuals to sign their support and take a pledge to tackle misconceptions and barriers so disabled and autistic voters have their political rights guaranteed by pledging to:
• Be allies and champion the right to vote for all disabled and autistic people
• Help promote the availability of manifestos and voting guides in accessible formats including easy read, braille and audio
• Listen to disabled and autistic people about their voting accessibility concerns and take action
Ministers who have signed the pledge include Alex Norris MP, Shadow Minister for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government and Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester writing to United Response, said:
“I fully endorse your statement that voting and elections should be accessible to everyone who has the legal right to vote, whether they have a disability or not.
“This is an issue which has been raised by my Disabled People’s Panel, and together we support Accessible Voting Day’s Aim to raise awareness of why voting and elections are hard for some people and help make voting more accessible.”
Ali Gunn, Public Affairs and Policy Lead at United Response said:
“It is simply unacceptable that thousands of people with learning disabilities are missing out on their democratic right to vote because of inaccessible information or a lack of reasonable adjustments at the polling booth.
“We have already had huge support within the disability sector but we are asking more people to join our pledge to ensure the right to vote for all disabled and autistic people.”
“I hope everyone with a learning disability knows their voice is vital and can be assured by our pledge to commit our support to remove any barriers they face when casting their vote.”
Accessible Voting Day will take place on the first Thursday of every March. For more information, please visit www.accessiblevotingday.org