MPs sign up to support accessible voting with disability coalition
Alex Norris MP, Shadow Minister for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government, hosted the reception for cross party MPs at Portcullis House in Westminster.
MPs including Lee Rowley, Derek Thomas, Lisa Nandy and Vicky Foxcroft attended the event to hear lived experiences of voting with a disability. Each unique experience had a shared call for the need for better access to stop people being excluded, not just from casting their vote but politics as a whole.
Alex Hughes, living in supported accommodation in Teddington, had a direct plea for attendees:
Progress needs to be made to include people with disabilities so they can vote with honour, respect and dignity.
The event was an opportunity for MPs to sign up to become accessible voting champions and learn how they can play a part in getting people with a learning disability and autistic people interested in politics and voting.
Speaking at the event Alex Norris MP explained why accessible voting is important to him;
I am proud to support My Vote My Voice in our shared commitment for accessible voting. Listening to people with lived experiences I am shocked and saddened to hear of cases where people with learning disabilities have been unable to cast their vote. The point is simple, if we want a democracy to be proud of then must ensure we listen to those most vulnerable in society.
Local elections across the country in May will be the first test of voter ID for overstretched councils with limited budgets to spend on accessible materials. Voter turnout of people with learning disabilities is as much as 40% lower than that of the general population and that was before they were being asked to navigate new legislative requirements to bring ID to the polling booth.
With the deadline for applications for voter ID in time for the local elections approaching on the 25th April there have been 25,700 applications submitted. Just over 1% of the 2 million voters who need the new free Voter ID
Local Government Minister Lee Rowley, who gave closing remarks at the launch and addressed the issues raised around the introduction of Voter ID said; “Thank you to the My Vote My Voice campaign for the work they have done on this very important issue.
Ensuring the security and sanctity of the ballot box is one of the most important responsibilities for government and we will continue to work with disability charities and local leaders across the elections sector to ensure everyone can exercise their democratic right to vote. That’s why it’s essential that everyone is prepared and has an accepted form of photo ID on the day to cast their vote, including applying for a free voter certificate if needed.