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Elections: Visual Impairment

Question for Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

UIN 122657, tabled on 10 February 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that partially sighted and blind people are able to easily participate in elections; and if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of ensuring that (a) at least one large version of the ballot paper is displayed inside each polling station to assist voters who are partially-sighted and (b) a mechanism is made available to enable voters who are blind or partially-sighted to cast their vote without need for assistance from the presiding officer or a companion.

Answered on

25 February 2022

The changes in the Elections Bill aim to strengthen the support for all voters with disabilities in the polling station and improve the way that this support is delivered. Rather than a blanket provision, we want disabled voters to get the support that is right for them and for Returning Officers to tailor their approach to suit the needs of disabled electors in their area - including blind and partially sighted voters. The provision of a large print ballot paper will remain in law and there are no plans to change this.

The Government is working with the Electoral Commission to support guidance which will provide a consistent framework for Returning Officers. This guidance will be twofold in setting out clear and thorough details of what support should be provided to disabled voters and providing practical guidance to assist Returning Officers in carrying out the new responsibilities effectively. The guidance will also be produced in partnership with the Government’s expert Accessibility of Elections Working Group, which includes representation from a number of disability charities and civil society organisations. The Commission will review the implementation of this guidance and ensure it is being implemented effectively through its performance standards used to monitor and assess how well Electoral Registration Officers and Returning Officers manage their duties.