New easy read guides have been launched today, to help people with a learning disability to vote in the upcoming elections this May.
The guides, created by the learning disability charity Mencap and the Electoral Commission, set out how to register and vote in the full range of elections taking place across England and Wales on 5 May, including local government elections and mayoral elections. The guides can be found on the Electoral Commission and Mencapwebsites.
The easy read guides provide practical and important information about the elections, including how to register to vote, how to cast a vote with confidence at a polling station, and how to apply for a postal and proxy vote.
Research published by the Commission in 2019 found that one in six people with a learning disability were not correctly registered to vote. Mencap and the Commission are urging people to register before the deadline at midnight on 14 April.
Registration is quick and easy and can be done online at www.gov.uk/registertovote. This UK Government service also includes easy read guidance.
Ismail Kaji, Parliamentary Support Officer at the learning disability charity Mencap and who has a learning disability, says:
“It’s so important that people with a learning disability vote so we can make our voices heard. We all have a right to vote and it’s our chance to tell the Government what we want to happen. Many people with a learning disability rely on social care support and services, and we need to use our voice to make sure that the Government considers what we need.
“I want to encourage everyone with a learning disability to register to vote this year, and to know they can get information in easy-read if they are finding things confusing. Easy read guides use accessible language and support people with a learning disability to vote so we can make our voice heard about what is important to us.”
Craig Westwood, Director of Communications, Policy and Research at the Electoral Commission, said:
“At the elections on 5 May voters will have the opportunity to make their voice heard on issues that directly affect their day-to-day lives. No one with a learning disability should face barriers when registering to vote or voting. Our joint guides with Mencap provide important information about how to take part in these elections.
“You can’t have a say at this May’s elections unless you are registered to vote, which you can do online at www.gov.uk/registertovote.”
Anyone wanting to vote by post or by choosing someone they trust to vote in their place, known as a proxy, should apply by contacting their local authority. The deadline to apply for a postal vote is 5pm on 19 April, and for a proxy vote the deadline is 5pm on 26 April.
On election day on 5 May, Mencap will also run its Election Hotline to support people with a learning disability to vote. People with a learning disability, and their carers, can call 0207 696 6009 to ask questions about voting.
For information on elections in your area, how to register to vote, or how to apply to vote by post or by proxy, visit www.electoralcommission.org.uk/voter.