With a year to go to the 2015 general election, the national disability charity, United Response, is launching its Every Vote Counts Election Planner today. Aimed at individuals and organisations working with people with learning disabilities or other “hard to reach” groups, the planner breaks down into 10 steps the processes and information needed to prepare people with learning disabilities for the election.
The Election Planner is part of United Response’s wider Every Vote Counts campaign. Launched in 2010, ahead of the last general election, Every Vote Counts sets out to raise awareness about the right of people with learning disabilities to vote and aims to break down the barriers preventing many people from using their vote.
Speaking about the Every Vote Counts campaign and today’s launch of the Election Planner, United Response’s Director of Communications, Diane Lightfoot, said:
“Thanks to the commitment of all those working in the learning disability sector, 2010 was the first election at which all main political parties produced accessible versions of their manifestos and more people with learning disabilities voted than ever before.
“Unfortunately, the turnout amongst people with learning disabilities was still far lower than that of the population as a whole, and that is why United Response is launching its Election Planner today. We want to encourage people to start thinking now about what needs to be done over the next year to ensure that all people with learning disabilities have the opportunity to have their say, and cast their vote at the ballot box next May.”
The printout and keep planner provides suggestions on how to prepare people for the election.
Step one encourages those working people with learning disabilities to start talking to the people they support about voting, and any specific barriers that people may be facing. In light of the new individual registration scheme, step two reminds people to check early on about people’s voting status and whether or not they are registered to vote.
Legal barriers, such as the Mental Capacity Act are covered in step 3 and step 4 highlights ways of ensuring people are kept well informed on developments in the news and politics. In step 5 people are encouraged to discuss what voting means.
Steps 6 and 7 cover ways in which people can engage in politics prior to the election, such as attending surgeries and staging a hustings. Looking at whether information is available to people in an accessible format is covered in step 8. Steps 9 and 10 cover the practicalities of voting, including mobility issues and other possible barriers on the day.
Alongside today’s planner, United Response will be issuing regular updates over the next year, looking in more detail at the different stages of the planner and sharing best practice ideas on supporting people to use their vote.
To download the planner and sign up for updates, go to www.unitedresponse.org.uk/press/campaigns/every-vote-counts
United Response is a community based charity that works with people with learning disabilities, mental health needs or physical disabilities- including some of the most vulnerable people in our society. To find out more about the work of United Response, please visit www.unitedresponse.org.uk