Polling stations are 'failing disabled voters'

Joe Churcher,Press Association
Monday 21 June 2010 10:01 BST

Online voting should be introduced to help make up for a failure to improve access to polling stations for the disabled, a leading charity said today.

Scope said a survey showed more than two thirds of polling stations at this year's general election failed basic access tests - despite new guidance and duties for local authorities.

That was no better than in 2001 or 2005.

Wheelchair users forced to vote in the street and those with eyesight problems who were unable to rely on staff to show them how to use special equipment to help them vote, were among those who suffered.

And more than a third of disabled people (35%) interviewed as part of the Scope's Polls Apart report said they would prefer to be able to vote online.

Policy and campaigns director Ruth Scott said: "Britain's archaic voting system is stretched to breaking point.

"It has been failing disabled voters for some time and, as we saw during the general election with scores of people queuing outside polling stations, it isn't working for other voters either.

"Over the last decade there has been next to no improvement in the overall accessibility of polling stations or postal voting.

"There is a pressing need for clearer accountability over how elections are delivered, to help improve the accessibility of current voting methods, as well as expanding these to include alternative methods.

"Unless this happens disabled people will continue to struggle to exercise their right to vote.

"In a digital age where people can vote by text for the X-Factor and shop and bank online, our voting system really needs to catch up."

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