Polling stations open at 7am tomorrow morning as the closest fought election in living memory gets underway on 7th May.

Our Every Vote Counts campaign was re-launched last November in a bid to make politics accessible to all, particularly people with learning disabilities, who have often been overlooked when it comes to voting.

Every Vote Counts hopes to make politics easier to understand for the 1.5 million people with learning disabilities across the UK and, over the last five months, has worked to equip this group and their supporters with accessible information on the democratic process, in order for people to be able to make an informed choice at the polls.

We have published a set of easy read resources about the political system and how to vote, as well as created a dedicated website that outlines what politics means and how it affects us, which includes detailed information for carers and politicians.

People with learning disabilities are entitled to vote and to accessible information

People with learning disabilities have the same right to vote as everyone else, yet are hugely under-represented at the ballot box. It is vital that people with disabilities and mental health needs are made aware of their rights and how to overcome the barriers to voting that often affect them more significantly than others in society.

Every Vote Counts has lobbied politicians and advocated on behalf of people we support to raise awareness of the fact that people with learning disabilities are entitled to vote, irrespective of their mental capacity, and to alert people to potentially discriminatory changes to voting registration that could negatively impact people with disabilities.

United Response has worked to empower people to learn more about politics and find out more about what each main political party thinks. That is why we have published an easy read manifesto round-up, an 18-page summary of the main election pledges made by the 7 main parties.

Polling staff and carers will be on hand to help you vote

When it comes to the day itself, it is important that people with learning disabilities and their supporters are aware of their rights and how they can vote. Polling station staff must follow guidelines on how to assist people with disabilities, if needed. Carers can visit our website, which explains how polling stations must be accessible to those with disabilities in order to accommodate their physical needs, as well as to allow carers to enter voting booths if necessary.

Andrew Scallan, director of electoral administration at the Electoral Commission, explained the role and responsibilities of polling station staff on election day.

He said: “Anyone who’s eligible to vote on polling day should be able to do so in a confident manner. Polling station staff are trained to provide assistance to any voter who asks for it.

“If a voter has had a negative experience of casting their vote at a polling station in the past, I’d urge them to get in touch with their local Returning Officer in advance of polling day to ensure their needs will be met on 7th May.”

Share your polling day experiences

We urge as many people with disabilities as possible to use their vote tomorrow and make their voices heard on polling day.

If you are voting tomorrow, or are supporting someone with disabilities to do so, then we would love to hear about your experiences, so why not get in touch? Please email us to share your story. 

Gemma Taylor, media assistant.