This year’s general election on 8 June is just under a month away, but do you know the different ways you can vote as a vision impaired voter? We’ve come up with a handy guide on everything you need to know to ensure you have your say as a blind or partially sighted person.
Register to vote online
The deadline for registering to vote for the June 8 elections is 22 May, so you really haven’t got long left. Thankfully, registering is easy and should take no longer than five minutes. Register to vote here and follow the instructions. Using the NVDA screen reader and the Firefox browser, the website is completely accessible.
You can also register to vote by sending an application by post and you can download a large print application form here.
Apply for a postal vote
When you register to vote, you can ask to be sent a postal ballot. If you have difficulty signing your name, simply inform the electoral commission when you request a postal vote so that they can accept your ballot form without your signature. You can also request a large print ballot form for reference or a braille tactile voting template, if you need assistance when making your postal vote.
If you are already registered and want to apply to vote by post, you can download your postal vote application form here.
The deadline in England, Scotland and Wales to apply to vote by post is 5pm on Tuesday May 23.
Voting by proxy
You can elect someone you trust to vote for you, if you find it difficult to get to the polling station. Download the Proxy Vote application form here, and make sure you apply by 5pm on May 31. You must also ensure you give a reason for requiring a vote by proxy. Explain that you find it difficult to get to the polling station due to your vision impairment. Unless you are registered as blind, you will need to ask your GP to back-up your application.
Voting with assistance at the polling station
You have a right to ask for assistance at the polling station either from the presiding officer or by bringing a close friend or family member who is over the age of 18. The person assisting you can go into the polling booth with you and mark the ballot box on your behalf.
You can also be provided with a large print form for reference or a braille tactile template. The template is placed over the ballot paper, and you can lift a numbered flap which is over the box where you can place your cross. This method relies on someone reading you the list of candidates in the right order.
How confident do you feel about casting your vote?
Despite all these methods, many blind people still feel it is unfair that they cannot vote without assistance, and therefore feel they are waiving their right to a secret ballot. In 2016, the Royal Society for Blind Children reported the experiences faced by some vision impaired voters. This included difficulties with using the braille tactile voting system, as well as difficulties in receiving assistance from staff that were unaware of how to help blind voters. What has your experience been at the ballot box?
Tell us what you think
We are working with Webroots Democracy, who are producing a report focusing on inclusive voting ahead of the general election. We are looking for your thoughts on your experiences at the ballot box. Fill out our survey to have your say on the inclusive voting solutions of the future.
Image credit: Justgrimes