London Vision and the Thomas Pocklington Trust have published ‘urgent recommendations’ to local authorities in the run up to the general election on 12 December.
The charities are urging local authorities to make polling stations more accessible for voters who are blind or partially-sighted.
The recommendations follow findings from a joint Thomas Pocklington trust and Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) survey, which found that 74% of blind and partially-sighted people said they felt ‘partially’ or ‘totally’ unable to vote in secret and without assistance.
CEO of London Vision, Cathy Low, said: “Barring widespread voting reform incorporating the integration of telephone, electronic and online voting, blind and partially-sighted people are likely to continue to feel excluded from voting. While they cannot guarantee secret and accessible voting for the 200,000 blind and partially sighted people in the capital, our four recommendations aim to help polling staff streamline the voting process for people with visual impairments.”
The four recommendations are designed to ensure polling staff are better aware of the needs of the blind and partially sighted electorate and increase understanding of what they can do to help.
The recommendations are: large print ballot papers to be made available at every polling station; availability of a tactile voting device to allow votes to be cast more independently; access to help when voting with returning officers or the voter’s own companion; and extra lighting in the polling booth.
CEO of the Thomas Pocklington Trust, Charles Colquhoun, added: “Making a small change – like brighter lighting in one polling booth – can go a long way to help partially sighted people cast their votes independently and secretly.”
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