Understanding accessible voting

As the December general election approaches, we look at the information and support available to make voting accessible for everyone.

On 12 December 2019 a general election will take place giving you the chance to vote for the candidate from a political party you think should represent your area. The candidate who gets more votes than anyone else will then become the Member of Parliament for that area.

In order for a political party to win an election and run the government, rather than just be elected in particular areas, they have to win an overall majority in the UK.

Why vote? 

Voting in a general election is a free and timely way to have your say on the area you live in, it also means having a say on things like welfare reform, benefits and new policy.

The government is responsible for these areas and others which affect the lives of people with a disability. Understanding each political party’s intentions, laid out in their manifestos, is key to deciding who you want to vote for.

Your vote shouldn’t be influenced by friends’ or family’s opinions, but by what you think based on your own research.

People with a disability have the same rights to vote as everybody else. To be able to vote you must be on the electoral register. 

Registering to vote

Anyone aged 18 or over who is a British, Irish or EU citizen is eligible to vote, but you have to register. 

In order to vote in the upcoming general election you must register to vote before midnight tonight (26 November). If you have recently moved home you have to register at your new address or you will be unable to cast your vote on 12 December.

You can register to vote online by yourself or with the help of a trusted carer or loved one. You will be asked where you live, when you were born, your name, address and contact information. 

You will also be asked to provide identification and your national insurance number. This can be found on payslips or official letters about benefits, pensions or tax. 

Once you have finished your application, your local electoral registration office will get in contact to confirm you have been added to the electoral register and will also send you a polling card. You can take this with you when you go to vote or provide your name and address on arrival.

If you need help or assistance to register to vote, contact your local electoral registration office

Accessible voting

When you register to vote you will be given the option of a postal vote. This is one of three ways to vote. 

It is important to pick the way of voting that works best for you and your situation. This mode of voting is helpful if you live in a rural area, won’t be home on the day of the election, or find it difficult to travel independently.

If you choose to vote by post you will be sent a polling card before an election. You should fill this out and return it to your local electoral services team.

The most common way to vote is at the polling station. This is where you go to vote in person. Polling stations are often at schools, churches and community centres. 

It is important to check if your polling station is accessible before you go to vote. The best way to do this is to contact the polling station or your local electoral registration office. They will give you information on accessibility and can tell you when they expect the polling station to be busiest and quietest.

The last way to vote is by proxy. This is when you choose a person you trust to vote on your behalf. You will have to inform your local electoral registration office if you want someone to vote for you by midnight today (26 November).

When choosing someone to vote for you it is important to discuss who you want to vote for so that they vote for the candidate and political party you want. 

Once polling stations close the votes will be counted and your new MP will then be announced, followed by which political party has won the election and will come into power as the new government.

Information and support

Click here to access the Mencap and Electoral Commission easy read guide to voting. 

Your local electoral registration office can answer questions about how to make your voting experience more accessible. 

Your Vote Matters provides advice on how to vote and why. 

Follow Enable on Twitter and Instagramfor all the latest news and support.

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