Voting and elections
In a general election you can choose from a list of candidates to become your elected Member of Parliament (MP) and represent your local area.
Members of Parliament are affiliated to different political parties. Usually, whichever political party wins the most MPs in the general election will form the next government.
Many decisions which affect disabled people are made by elected politicians. The government estimates there are more than 11 million disabled people across the UK, meaning disabled people can play a crucial role in deciding the result of elections. It’s why registering to vote so you can have your say is so important.
Registering to vote
In order to vote you will need to be registered. Your local electoral registration office will be able to tell you if you are registered.
If you are not registered to vote, you can register via the government website.
Some local authorities also allow voters to register by phone. You can find out whether your local authority offers this service by contacting your local electoral registration office.
Remember, you will need to know your national insurance number in order to register.
Mencap has developed a handy guide to the voting process (PDF) with further information.
Ways to vote and accessibility
Disabled people should not face any barriers when casting their vote on general election day. The electoral commission states disabled people must not be disadvantaged in any way and polling stations must make reasonable adjustments to ensure voting is accessible to all.
When voting at a polling station disabled people are entitled to:
- Equal access to the polling station. If you have any questions about your accessibility requirements you can contact your local electoral registration officer.
- A tactile voting device for those with visual impairments. A large print version of ballot papers will also be displayed in the polling both, or you can request large hand-held copy of the ballot paper.
- Low-level accessible polling booths for those in a wheelchair.
- Assistance to mark the ballot paper. This can be provided either by the presiding officer or from someone you know (this must be an immediate family member over 18 years old or a ‘qualified elector’, also over the age of 18).
If you have difficulty getting to a polling station you can request a postal vote, or if you wish you can vote by proxy, which means that someone else goes to the polling station and votes on your behalf.
You will need to sign the application form when applying to vote by both post and proxy, and once again when you submit your postal vote. If you are unable to provide your signature, you can request a signature waiver from your local electoral registration office.
The Electoral Commission have provided a useful list of rights (PDF) for disabled voters as well as an accessibility checklist for polling stations (Word doc.).