Accessible voting

The issue

There are still huge misconceptions about the voting rights of people who have a learning disability, autism or an acquired brain injury. In 2021 we found that only two thirds of people in the UK knew that people with learning disabilities have a legal right to vote.

Despite great efforts to increase voter registration for these groups, such as initiatives like our Every Vote Counts website it often doesn’t translate into voter turnout. This can be due to barriers faced in the polling station, such as negative attitudes and behaviours.

Easy read manifestos tend to be produced at the last minute rather than when a party launches its pledge. Currently no political party has easy read materials on their website to promote their current policies or future plans. 

Whilst there are some positives in the Elections Bill, such as enabling voters the right to choose who their companion is, we have concerns. Without being prescriptive about how needs can be met in a local area, we are worried that returning officers will fail to meet the needs of voters who already face considerable barriers. We also feel that Voter ID will prevent people with learning disabilities and autism participating in their democratic right to vote.

What we’d like to see

  • Access needs recorded when people register to vote so returning officers ensure polling stations have the right access, equipment and staff training
  • The introduction of universal polling stations so people have the option to choose where to cast their vote within a local authority area and are assured their access needs will be met
  • A commitment from every political party to produce easy read, audio and video manifestos that are published at the same time as their manifesto is launched
  • Accessible information about party policy developments in formats such as easy read, audio and video are available on all party websites as a minimum standard.