National social care provider Dimensions have created an innovative new document which will help polling stations become more accessible for people with learning disabilities and autism.
A voting passport is an easyread A4 sheet of paper printed with information about the individuals’ voting needs.
It is designed to be handed to polling staff so they easily can understand the reasonable adjustments needed to make them feel more comfortable to vote.
The idea was created after feedback from the people the care provider supports, including members of the Dimensions Council, indicated that polling stations can be a difficult environment for people with autism and/or learning disabilities to cast their vote.
Jordan, a member of the council, was recently interviewed on BBC Ouch discussing the issues he faced when he first went to vote in 2005.
Jordan has mild learning disabilities and cerebral palsy. He was turned away from the polling station as he had a family member supporting him to read the candidates’ names, and information within the polling station and booth.
The Presiding Officer said that his family member was not allowed to come in and caused such a scene that Jordan’s anxiety levels grew to a level where the only option was for him to leave. As a result, he never got to cast his vote in the 2005 general election.
The document itself hopes to tackle issues like this head on. It includes an “About me” section with the person’s name and a list of things to help them to vote, e.g no waiting in long queues; staying with their support worker.
It also allows them to write who they would like support from, their name and if they are eligible to vote in the UK or, if not, that they will need to work with the Presiding Officer to support them.
On the back of the document is a section called “know my rights” which includes extracts from the Mental Capacity Act (2005), Electoral Administration Act (2006) and Equality Act (2010) to bedunk common myths about people with learning disabilities and autism’s right to vote.
It also explains “What other people can do” e.g explain the ballot options, come into the polling booth, and what other people can’t do e.g make a decision for you, mark the ballot paper against your wishes.
The voting passport forms part of a wider campaign by Dimensions called Love Your Vote. The campaign is all around helping people with learning disabilities and autism to become more politically engaged.