Some disabled people were denied their vote at June’s general election because they were turned away at the polling station or were unable to get inside, a report says. The Electoral Commission revealed that 72% of voters with disabilities believed the 8 June poll was well run, considerably fewer than the 80% recorded among those without disabilities. In a survey of more than 3,500 voters, the commission heard complaints from disabled people that voting literature was difficult to read or understand and that polling stations were hard to access. Some were unaware they could take someone with them to help them cast their ballot or could ask polling station staff to assist. The report recorded complaints that polling booths were too narrow for wheelchairs; noise and flickering lights caused anxiety for some disabled voters; staff did not offer tactile voting devices or did not know how to use them; and disabled people were unable to vote in secret.
The report found that 5% of disabled people said it was hard for them to get into the polling station. “We have heard of times when someone with a disability has not been able to vote,” it says. “They have gone to the polling station and been sent away or they have not been able to get in. Other people said that voting at their polling station made them feel uncomfortable.”
The commission recommended changes to ensure people with disabilities could register to vote and take part in elections.
People with disabilities could be offered a choice of polling station or allowed to vote in advance, the commission said. It urged political parties to publish accessible versions of their manifestos at the same time as the main document.