Last week, the Political and Constitutional Reform select committee into voter engagement has recommended that the Government take swift action to address the fact that many people with a learning disability face barriers to registering to vote and in turn voting.
Mencap gave evidence at the committee inquiry highlighting that participation among people with a learning disability is extremely low. A recent Mencap survey showed the amount of people with a learning disability who wish to vote is proportionally higher than the general population (55%), although many have faced barriers to exercising their democratic right when they tried to vote in this year’s local elections:
- 17% of the people polled said they had been turned away from a polling station because they had a learning disability
- 60% said they found the process of registering to vote too difficult
- 56% said they did not want to vote for any political parties
Ismail Kaji, Parliamentary Affairs Assistant and learning disability spokes person who gave evidence at the parliamentary inquiry said:
“We welcome the committee’s report asking the Government to take action to make registering to vote and voting more accessible for disabled people.
“I believe that the voting system should be more accessible for people with a learning disability so everyone has the opportunity to vote and be heard by their local MP. I believe that it s important that the parties produce more information in easy read so that people can understand who they are voting for so they can make a real choice. We want this general election to be the most accessible so more people with a learning disability vote and have their say.”
The Chair of the committee Graham Allen MP said:
“It is a basic democratic principle that all citizens are able to participate on an equal basis, and people must not be disenfranchised as a result of having a learning disability.”
The select committee’s report highlighted:
It is clear there is a particular problem with the accessibility of registration and voting for a large number of people with specific needs resulting from a disability. It is unacceptable that people face barriers registering to vote or participating at elections because of a disability”
“We recommend that within three months of the publication of this Report, the
Government consult with the Electoral Commission, EROs and disability groups and publish clear and stretching proposals setting out how registration and voting will be made more accessible to people with disabilities. We also recommend that political parties work with disability groups to make manifestos and other election material accessible in formats which people with disabilities find easier to use.”
About Royal Mencap Society
There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want. http://www.mencap.org.uk/ For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email firstname.lastname@example.org