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Poling stations “failing disabled voters”

Published: 07/10/10

A charity has alleged that disabled voters were let down by access to polling stations during May’s UK election.

According to research carried out by Scope nearly two thirds of polling stations across the country failed their basic access test. That was not the only bad news for disabled voters, the charity also claimed that there was no overall improvement in services at polling stations since the last election in 2005.

Examples of problems experienced by disabled voters included wheelchair users who ended up voting in the street and also partially sighted people not being shown how to use special voting equipment.

Ruth Scott of Scope said "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."

In the run up to the general election there were several campaigns aimed at informing people with disabilities of their electoral rights. At the beginning of the year another disabled charity The United Response had launched a campaign to encourage political awareness by the estimated 500,000 eligible voters with learning difficulties.

A possible solution being suggested by Scope is for online voting to be made available for disabled voters. In a survey carried out by the charity more than a third said they would prefer to vote online.

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