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2010 National Disabled Members' Conference
9 July 2010
Carried as Amended

This Conference will be concerned that many people were unable to exercise their right to vote in the 2010 elections as they were turned away on the day. Sometimes disabled people don’t get the opportunity to be turned away by the polling officer despite the duty in the Electoral Administration Act 2006 for local authorities to conduct regular reviews of polling stations to ensure they are as accessible as possible to disabled people and the Disability Equality Duty 2005 which places a duty on public authorities to encourage participation by disabled people in public life . Often disabled people are not always even able to get as far as attempting to vote. In fact in some cases the situation for disabled people is so bad that they have almost accepted they will never be able to vote. This is not because disabled people don’t want to vote or aren’t interested in voting. The reasons why disabled people don’t vote include:

·Information on how to vote not being accessible as the information provided is not always in an accessible format as required by the Public Sector Equality Duties

·Information from political parties not being accessible

*** The absence of level access to polling station premises

·Ramps to polling stations are not appropriate, they are too steep or have no support rails and sometime there are no ramps at all

·Security doors that are so heavy they can’t get in

·Poor lighting to get to the polling station and inside the polling booth

·Temporary polling stations that are too small for wheelchair users

·Officers who shout your choice of vote out if you are visually impaired and need help

·Difficulty in registering or understanding the registration process

This means up to 11 million disabled adults, representing one in five of the adult population in the UK could find it unreasonably difficult or impossible to vote. The prospect is bleak too for many of the next generation of approximately 770,000 young disabled people having poor opportunities to make their choice and cast their vote in democratic processes that will determine the political nature of English local authorities, Northern Ireland local councils, the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly in the elections to be held in 2011.

Therefore we congratulate Newcastle City Branch on their work with Newcastle City Council to develop the “Voting Help Pack” and call upon National Disabled Members Committee to work with National Executive Committee to:

1.Lobby all mainstream parties to provide accessible information about their policies;

2.Promote the involvement of disabled people in the political process at all times;

3.Encourage Regions and Branches to work with their local Democratic Services to produce guidance that will ensure disabled people are given the information and support they need to enable them to vote; lobby for a national standard of training for polling officers that includes disability awareness training

5. Urge the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to reform and modernise electoral arrangements and procedures so that they are accessible to all disabled people