Calls for online voting to end discrimination against disabled

Calls for online voting to end discrimination against disabled
Calls for online voting to end discrimination against disabled

By Tobias Benedetto

A charity is urging the government to introduce online voting after disabled people experienced difficulties casting their ballot at the recent general election.

Disability charity Scope described reform of the voting system as "critical" to ensure disabled people are able to exercise their electoral rights.

Ruth Scott, Scope's policy and campaigns director said: "Britain's archaic voting system is stretched to breaking point. It has been failing disabled voters for some time."

Examples cited by the charity included people forced to vote in the street because of the lack of wheelchair access at polling stations and visually impaired voters concerned they had spoiled their ballot because of problems using a device specially designed to help them add a cross to the paper correctly.

Despite comprehensive guidance and new duties on local authorities, Scope surveys show access has not improved since the two previous general elections in 2005 and 2001.

Ms Scott added: "Over the last decade there has been next to no improvement in the overall accessibility of polling stations or postal voting.

"There is a pressing need for clearer accountability over how elections are delivered, to help improve the accessibility of current voting methods, as well as expanding these to include alternative methods.

"In a digital age where people can vote by text for the X-Factor and shop and bank online, our voting system really needs to catch up."

Sixty-seven per cent of polling stations surveyed during the recent general election failed a basic disability access test and 35% of disabled people interviewed would prefer online voting to existing methods, according to a report by the charity.


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