Electoral Commission
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Have your say on the accessibility of voting

Members of the public are invited to have their say on measures to improve the accessibility of polling stations as part of a new public consultation.

The consultation, run by the Electoral Commission, opens on Monday 5 September and looks at how polling stations can be improved to make voting easier for people with disabilities.

Responses will be used to shape the guidance provided by the Commission to council staff who run elections, helping them to understand the barriers faced by people with disabilities and to make informed decisions about what they can do to make voting easier and more accessible for all.

The new guidance will reflect changes introduced by the Elections Act, expanding the support available in polling stations and giving voters with disabilities more choice about who can accompany them. These changes will come into effect at elections from May 2023.

Ailsa Irvine, the Electoral Commission’s Director of Electoral Administration and Guidance said:

“Everyone should have the right to vote on their own and in secret. Although there have been improvements in recent years, our research shows that there is still more to do to make voting easier for people with disabilities.

“We need your input to make sure we recommend the right support. If you want to have your say on the accessibility of voting at polling stations, we would like to hear from you.”

The consultation calls for views on barriers to voting, what should be available for people at polling stations, training for polling station staff, and how election teams can help to raise awareness of the support available to their local residents.

The consultation is open from 5 September 2022 until 17 October 2022.To contribute, fill in the online form when the consultation is live on our website next week or email EAConsultations@electoralcommission.org.uk (Opens in new window).

Notes to editors

1. The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. We work to promote public confidence in the democratic process and ensure its integrity by:

  • enabling the delivery of free and fair elections and referendums, focusing on the needs of electors and addressing the changing environment to ensure every vote remains secure and accessible
  • regulating political finance – taking proactive steps to increase transparency, ensure compliance and pursue breaches
  • using our expertise to make and advocate for changes to our democracy, aiming to improve fairness, transparency and efficiency

The Commission was set up in 2000 and reports to the UK and Scottish Parliaments and the Senedd.

2. The consultation on accessibility guidance will run in two phases, from 5 September to 17 October and then from 28 November to 9 January. This will allow us to incorporate feedback from the first phase into an updated version. The second phase of the consultation is also a legal requirement.

3. The UK Government introduced a number of changes to the UK electoral system in the Elections Act 2022. Changes include the introduction of voter ID for elections in Great Britain, changes to voting rights for EU citizens, and improving the accessibility of elections. There is more information on the Elections Act and our views on the reforms on our website.

4. Changes to accessibility guidance will apply at UK parliamentary elections, Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales, local and mayoral elections in England, and Northern Ireland Assembly and local elections. The first scheduled elections where these changes will apply are in May 2023. The new accessibility measures do not apply to elections to the Scottish Parliament or the Senedd, or to local elections in Scotland and Wales.

5. The guidance will recommend a range of support that election teams in local councils should make available at polling stations. The Elections Act requires election teams to ‘have regard’ to our guidance however, local teams make the final decision on what to provide based on their understanding of residents’ needs.

6. There is information on the accessibility support currently available at elections on our website.

Channel website: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk

Original article link: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/media-centre/have-your-say-accessibility-voting

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