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Local Elections new law shuns disabled voters

picture of a man in a wheelchair at a polling booth

Thousands of disabled people could be left without a vote today, May 4, in the local elections under the government’s new ID law.

Those wishing to make a vote at polling stations will need to show photo identification before receiving a ballot paper for the first time.

People not procession of ID were told they had to apply for the government’s free voter authority certificate, the law was introduced to “strengthen the integrity of the electoral process” under The Elections Act 2022.

But the act faced heavy criticism by some branding the move “voter suppression”.

One measure of the act was intended to make it easier for disabled people to vote, easing restrictions on who can accompany them to a polling station as their “companion”. 

But the government has contradicted itself after its past research highlighted disabled people are less likely to be in procession of photo ID.

Fazilet Hadi, head of policy at Disability Rights UK warned: “ We are extremely concerned that new electoral laws will have negative consequences for disabled citizens seeking to exercise their vote.

“The new provisions on the need to produce photo ID will put yet another barrier in the way of many disabled people trying to use their vote. Millions of disabled people will not have a driving licence or passport, will find applying for a free photo ID challenging or may not even have heard of the new requirements.”

Hadi went on to say not all polling stations will be fully accessible.

“Polling stations are being asked to have a range of equipment that makes voting easier such as pen grips, tactile voting devices and tables at wheelchair height but it is not clear that voters can expect the full range of equipment at every polling station,” she said.

[ Polling stations are always open from 7am until 10pm. ]

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