Harefield Gazette

Blind denied the right to vote in secret

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ONE hundred and fifty years ago, the Ballot Act of 1872 decreed that everyone had the right to vote in secret. Despite this, four in five blind people in 2021 said they were still unable to vote independen­tly and in secret.

The figures speak for themselves – blind and partially sighted voters are too often being denied the right to a secret vote, and the Elections Bill, currently moving through the House of Lords, will only make this worse.

Voting is a fundamenta­lly visual process. Under current law, introduced a generation ago, every polling station must have a device to make voting possible “without any assistance” for voters with sight loss. The Elections Bill is getting rid of this guarantee, meaning that it will become a postcode lottery for blind and partially sighted people as to what equipment they can expect when they go to cast their vote.

This move by the Government goes against all aspiration­s around levelling up for disabled people in society. We urgently call on the Secretary of State Michael Gove and Parliament­arians to maintain existing provisions to enable an independen­t vote for blind and partially sighted people.

Sign RNIB’s petition and join the organisati­on in calling on the Government for change to the Elections Bill at www.rnib.org.uk/ campaignin­g.

Sophie Dodgeon Head of Policy and Public Affairs RNIB (The Royal National

Institute of Blind People)

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