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Blogs 21st December 2023

My Vote My Voice’s first Returning Officer Accessible Voting Champion

Paul Orders is the Chief Executive of Cardiff Council and the first Returning Officer in the UK to become an Accessible Voting Champion. Read on to hear why Paul’s signed up to the campaign!

Paul Orders has been the Chief Executive of Cardiff Council since 2013 and has responsibility for the officer leadership of 15,000 staff and strategic management of council services in the Capital City of Wales.

He is the Returning Officer in Cardiff and as part of the Council’s commitment to equal opportunities, has overseen the drive to improve engagement with and the accessibility of the democratic process in the city.

“It’s a real honour for me to become an Accessible Voting Champion and to support the My Vote My Voice campaign.

“In Cardiff we are committed to encouraging all electors to engage in the democratic process.

“We understand the stumbling blocks many may face to participating in this process and so, we have made it our goal to remove these barriers to enable and support everyone in our city to exercise their right to vote and make their voices heard.

“The Council’s Electoral Services team has done considerable work over the past few years to ensure the elections we run are accessible.

“This has included working with various community groups in the city, like Cardiff People First, a self-advocacy organisation run by and for people with a learning disability, to organise monthly workshops about voting and elections.

“We’ve also partnered with our Youth Services team and the city’s Deaf Cool Youth Club to deliver democratic engagement sessions for young people with a hearing impairment.

“Both these initiatives have been a great success and we are keen to continue to work with groups around the city to offer such opportunities.

“When it comes to what happens on polling day itself, we’ve undertaken a thorough review of all polling stations, assessing accessibility and planning adaptations where possible, including ramps and low-level polling booths.

“From the next scheduled poll in May 2024 – the Police & Crime Commissioner election, large sample ballot papers and notices on voting will be displayed in polling stations. Information cards will be available for electors to indicate their individual needs to polling staff, who are  trained to help voters who may require assistance. Aids such as pencil grips, additional lighting, magnifiers and tactile voting devices will also be available.”