United ResponseDisability charity United Response has launched its Every Vote Counts Election Planner, which aims to get people with learning disabilities and other ‘hard to reach’ groups engaged in the forthcoming general election.

The Election Planner is aimed at individuals and organisations working with people with learning disabilities. It breaks down the processes needed to prepare people with learning disabilities for the general election into easy to follow steps. The general election is now less than a year away.

This is part of United Response’s wider Every Vote Counts campaign, which aims to raise awareness about people with learning disabilities’ right to vote and break down the barriers preventing many from using it.

United Response’s director of communications, Diane Lightfoot, said: “Thanks to the commitment of all those working in the learning disability sector, 2010 was the first election at which all main political parties produced accessible versions of their manifestos and more people with learning disabilities voted than ever before. 

“Unfortunately, the turnout amongst people with learning disabilities was still far lower than that of the population as a whole, and that is why United Response [has launched] its Election Planner. We want to encourage people to start thinking now about what needs to be done over the next year to ensure that all people with learning disabilities have the opportunity to have their say, and cast their vote at the ballot box next May.”

10 steps

Briefly, the 10 steps in the Election Planner are as follows: Step 1 encourages those working people with learning disabilities to start talking to the people they support about voting, and any specific barriers that people may face. In light of the new individual registration scheme, step 2 reminds people to check early on about people’s voting status and whether or not they are registered to vote.

Legal barriers, such as the Mental Capacity Act are covered in step 3 and step 4 highlights ways of ensuring people are kept well informed on developments in the news and politics. Step 5 encourages people to discuss what voting means.

Steps 6 and 7 cover ways that people can engage in politics prior to the election, such as attending surgeries or staging a hustings – a public event where one or more candidates come and speak. Looking at whether information is available to people in an accessible format is covered in step 8. Steps 9 and 10 cover the practicalities of voting, including mobility issues and other possible barriers on the day.

To download the planner and sign up for updates, go to: www.unitedresponse.org.uk/press/campaigns/every-vote-counts/