Disability charities and organisations have created resources to support people with learning disabilities to vote in the upcoming local elections.
This year, the local elections are due to take place on Thursday 5 May in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Who is eligible to vote?
Everyone over the age of 18 who is on the electoral register and is registered to an address in the area you want to vote in is eligible to vote.
Everyone with a learning disability is therefore entitled to vote, so long as they can communicate who they wish to vote for, somebody can complete the ballot paper on their behalf.
You can apply to vote by post or by proxy, but if you’d prefer to vote in person, all polling stations should have disabled access, and staff should help make reasonable adjustments to support people with disabilities to vote.
What are the barriers that stop people with learning disabilities from voting?
In 2008, United Response conducted a survey and found that only one in six people with a learning disability voted in their last local elections, and only one in eight voted in the 2005 local election.
While this has improved in recent years, the charity say there are still a lot of people with learning disabilities who are not voting.
The main barrier that was identified in the survey was a lack of accessible information that explains the difference between candidates and policies.
To tackle this, they set up the Every Vote Counts project to help more people with learning disabilities take part in politics and use their vote.
The charity created three booklets to make politics easier to understand, all of which are written in easy-read format.
“We want people with learning disabilities to able to use their vote in the same way as everyone else and that is why Every Vote Counts is so important,” United Response said.
Easy read and accessible resources
As well as accessible guides to politics, learning disability charities and organisations have created a range of resources which explain how to register to vote and what to expect at your local polling station, some of which are listed below:
Voting Passports help explain to staff the reasonable adjustments individuals require
Dimensions has also been running a campaign called Love Your Vote which offers guides for people with learning disabilities as well as support workers and carers.
The charity also offers free workshops to learn about politics and has created a free Voting Passport which explains to staff the reasonable adjustments the person will need in order to vote.
Through this work, Dimensions say they have helped hundreds of people with learning disabilities and autism learn more about politics and they are “proud” that so many people are now exercising their right to vote.