Ensuring local blind and partially sighted people are included in the 2017 General Election
Every eligible member of our community has the right to vote independently and in secret and voting at the polling station must be accessible to people living with sight loss. But we know, from talking to local people living with sight loss and from research conducted by the RNIB, that this isn’t always the case. Visually impaired voters are often left without accessible information about candidates and voting information. Going to a polling station has been described by partially sighted people as making them feel worthless and unable to place a vote in secret – a basic human right.
In preparation for polling day on the 8th June, we will be doing all that we can to help make local blind and partially sighted people feel included in this General Election. We will ensure the voice of people living with sight loss is heard and we will campaign for more accessible voting in our community.
On this page, you will find information on your rights as a voter including the various options you have to cast your vote and information on what we are doing locally in the run up to the general election to help to ensure that local people living with sight loss feel represented
What are Galloway’s doing to ensure local people living with sight loss feel part of the 2017 General Election?
Here at Galloway’s, we’re working hard across Lancashire and Sefton to ensure that the estimated 50,000 people living with sight loss feel included and able to vote in this General Election.
- We are sending press releases to all our local papers containing information and guidance on voting for blind and partially sighted people.
- We are writing to all Electoral Offices in our area to remind them of the accessible help they are required to offer and provide.
- We are inviting local political party candidates to hold debates in our offices so that people with sight loss can attend and ask relevant questions about the issues that face local blind and partially sighted people. We will also record this and send it out on our Talking Newspapers which circulate to thousands of people.
- We are using Social Media to get our messages across to the general public.
- We have offered two of our offices as Polling Stations.
- We will be looking into offering transport and support for people with sight loss who struggle to access a Polling Station on polling day.
- We will lobby all political parties in our areas to try and ensure their information is in accessible and alternative formats
Some useful information on voting in the General Election on June 8th 2017
Some of this information is with thanks to the RNIB Website.
What to expect at the Polling Station?
By Law, every polling station has to provide:
A large print ballot form : A large print copy of the ballot paper should be displayed for reference. A copy should also be given to you to take into the booth with you. Although you can use the large print copy to read all the information which is on the ballot form, your vote must still be cast on a standard print ballot paper.
A Tactile Voting Device: Each polling station must provide a tactile voting device for people living with sight loss who have difficulty completing the standard print ballot paper. The tactile voting device is designed to help you cast your vote in the correct place. The device has a sticky backing which attaches on the top of your ballot paper. It has numbered lift up flaps which are in braille and raised, directly over the boxes where you mark your vote. You may either use the large print ballot form, or ask the polling station staff for help to read out the list of candidates to you, which are numbered and in alphabetical order. You then need to remember the number of the candidate you wish to vote for and lift the flap with the same number and then mark your X in the box. The tactile device then detaches so you can then fold your ballot paper in half before posting it in the ballot box.
Help at the Polling Station
Help at the Polling Station: Despite large print ballot papers and the Tactile Voting Device, it’s still common for partially sighted voters to have difficulties. You can request somebody to help you at the polling station. Help can guide you from the entrance, polling booths and ballot boxes as well as vote on your behalf. This person can be a member of staff at the polling station, an immediate family member over 18 years old, or a qualified elector which is someone who is legally able to vote in a UK election.
Can I vote without going to a Polling Station?
Yes! There are other ways of voting without going to a polling station on the day of the General Election.
Vote by Proxy
If you are registered to vote, but will not be able to get to a polling station to vote, you can appoint somebody you trust to go to your polling station to vote on your behalf. This is what is called voting by proxy. It’s different to postal voting because you need to give a reason for your proxy vote, but explaining that you find it difficult to get to a polling station because of your sight loss should suffice. At least 6 working days before the General Election, you must register your vote by proxy. There is a form to complete (which varies depending on the reason you are requesting a by proxy vote) which must be returned to your local electoral registration office. You may need somebody to support your application, such as a professional like a GP or support worker.
It’s possible to vote by post rather than by visiting a polling station. You must register in advance to use this option and then you will be sent a ballot paper which gives you the option to vote in your own home using magnifiers or equipment.