Making voting and elections more accessible
To coincide with Accessible Voting Day in March, Brandon’s Adventurers - a group of people supported by Brandon - met to share their views on politics, elections and voting.
Brandon is proud to employ The Adventurers to support our work and to co-create resources designed by and for the people we support.
The Adventurers’ voting discussion means that additional information will be provided to help people we support make their own decisions and access voting, as well as additional resources for our support workers.
What Brandon is doing to make voting more accessible
Brandon’s quality and compliance team administrator, Lynne Parfitt, invited The Adventurers to an online meeting to discuss their experiences of voting at elections.
Do you think voting is important? Why?
All the participants were aware that they have the right to vote and the majority of the group agreed that it is important to vote.
Kate said: “Well, yes, obviously. So we can put our points of view across to the MP.”
Tom added: "Yes. Because maybe, one day they might actually listen to us."
Some of The Adventurers have been supported to go to a polling station to vote, whilst others have cast their vote by post.
However, not all of them have voted. The main reason given by those who have not voted was a lack of information about voting, finding it confusing, and not knowing that an election was taking place.
Nathan shared his thoughts: "I don't really watch much TV so I don't know much about it. It would be great if I knew when it was coming up, or if I actually had help doing it. I wouldn't mind voting then. They don't really put anything out there for us, for us to be able to vote properly."
Some people have also experienced difficulties with voter registration. For example, one person moved house and their voting card went to their old address.
Do you think politicians care about you and what you have to say?
Lucy: "It's important that I feel listened to and I feel comfortable."
Peter and Linda: "Yes, we have two politicians living on our road."
Tom: "I've only met my MP once but I don't actually think they know how to treat people with learning disabilities."
Peter: "There are a lot of people out there like us, that need our help."
If you had more information, such as easy-reads, would you be more likely to vote?
Lucy: “I would agree.”
Nathan: “There was nothing really like that out there when I needed it.”
Peter: "Yes, if we had more help to make sure we go to the right place and to tick the box."
The Adventurers’ feedback
The discussion produced some interesting views. Most of the participants were interested in politics and want to exercise their right to vote.
Despite stories in the media about other people’s negative experiences at polling stations, we’re pleased to hear that The Adventurers have not had similar experiences.
At the end of the meeting, the group proposed three things that would help make voting easier for someone with a learning disability or autism:
- Accessible information on how to register to vote and what happens when you go to a polling station
- Accessible information about what the political parties are promising to do if they get into power (the manifestos)
- A chance to ask questions about voting and elections
Lynne, who facilitated this meeting, will be working with The Adventurers, to run some online election workshops. Every person who receives support from Brandon will be invited to participate.
The sessions will cover topics including; voter registration, the voting process, and easy-read manifestos. The sessions will also provide a space for people to ask any questions they have.
Additional information will also be created for Brandon’s support workers, to ensure they are able to help people we support make their own choices in elections and access polling stations.
Government information for voters
From 4 May 2023, voters in England will need to show photo ID in order to vote in local elections. It will apply to UK general elections from October 2023.
If you don’t have one of the accepted forms of photo ID, you need to apply for a free voter ID document called a Voter Authority Certificate. You need to register to vote before applying for this certificate.
The deadline to register to vote for the May local elections in England is 11:59pm on 17 April and the deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate is 5pm 25 April 2023.
Accessible Voting Day
The Accessible Voting Day campaign by United Response, promotes the rights of people with disabilities to take part in politics and to vote. It also aims to raise awareness of the difficulties people may have when voting and how it could be made more accessible.
In 2021, United Response published the results of their survey into what people think about voting and elections.
The survey found that only 66% of people thought there is enough information and help available to make voting easy for everyone. The survey also found that some individuals had been turned away from a polling station because of their disability.
You can discover more results from the United Response survey on their website.
There’s also My Vote My Voice – a new campaign set up after research showed that people with learning disabilities are 40% less likely to vote than the general population.
If you would like to share your views and experiences of voting, please take the My Vote My Voice survey.
For information about registering to vote and voter ID for elections, please see The Electoral Commission’s Voter ID Booklet (easy read PDF, 1.35MB).