Making the electoral system more accessible for everyone

Polling station 1-02By Ailsa Irvine, Director of Electoral Administration and Guidance at the Electoral Commission

Everyone should be able to participate in elections and cast their vote with confidence, but this is not always the case. Even though they have the right to vote, some people face barriers to taking part in our democratic process.

Our electoral system needs to be made accessible to all. That is why we welcome the UK Government’s recommendations, announced today, and are keen to see improvements made as soon as possible.

The recommendations, which aim to help make elections more accessible to voters with a disability, are the product of a call for evidence from the UK Government.

Our report ‘Elections for everyone’ found that people with a disability are less likely to find elections well run. This has to change.

After the general election last year, we undertook research with voters that have disabilities to inform our report, Elections for everyone. We heard testimonials from voters with learning and physical disabilities and people living with mental illness, about their experiences of registering to vote and voting. We also spoke to a number of charities as part of our research. While most voters are happy with registering to vote and voting in the UK, not all voters with disabilities had a good experience. This must be improved.

We submitted our report as evidence and made recommendations to the UK Government, political parties, candidates, electoral administrators, carers and support workers on what they can do to make elections more accessible. We also committed to stepping up our work with everyone involved in running elections to help ensure there are no barriers to voting.

We are pleased that the UK Government has used the evidence we provided for the recommendations they have released this week. We will continue to do what we can to see the recommendations put into action. This includes strengthening the support we give to electoral administrators so that they can help people with a disability to register and to vote.

Ensuring that nobody faces barriers to voting is very important, and collaboration and cooperation will be key to overcoming the issues voters have told us about and ensuring that elections are for everyone.

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