My name is Corrin McLelland, I’m 25 year old and I’m an apprentice here at Disability Rights UK. The difficulty I have is a speech and languages problem. For example I have problems understanding things like when I was little and people would say to me it’s raining cats and dogs and I wouldn’t understand the phrase. Sometime I did have some problem with pronunciation, not saying the write word or not understanding what things means. Because I had a speech and languages difficulty, during my education it did affect my ability to learn while I in school which made me loss some confidence and made me had some learning difficulty on the side.
I was ask to write a short blog about disability and representation and I chose to write about the coming general election and why people with disability should vote.
With the election coming up it’s your chance to vote which politician and party do you stand for. Sowhy should I vote? why is it important? what’s in it for me?why we should take notice, especially those who are disabled?
Why should people with disabilities vote and why is it important?
Voting gives you the chance to help choose the right person who runs the UK and the local area where you live. It often seems that government and politics is a big deal, but mostly Politics affects lots of things everyday such as where you live, the food you eat, your night out, travel, sport and even entertainment! When you watch or listening to the news it can sound like all the political parties are the same but actually they all have very different emphasis and areas of interest.Which applied to almost everything we buy are just 2 of the areas where there are major differences between parties, so voting for the party who best reflects your views or hopes can make a difference. Voting is a way of honouring our history as long as our country existed, there have been people who didn’t want us to vote. There were several freedom fighters that stood up for the right to vote like Emmeline Pankhurst. Well, those times may seem ancient, but there are still people today who don’t want us to vote. It’s now our turn to stand up and vote to preserve the honour of those who went before us.That’s how we make our concerns about schools, safety, housing, and other issues heard.
With disabled people making up over 20% of the voting age population, it would be foolish if efforts weren’t made to ensure they can vote easily.
What help is available for people with disabilities to vote?
Local authorities now have to take proactive steps to ensure that polling stations don’t disadvantage disabled people. All voters have a right to vote independently and in secret. A person who is registered to vote or who has been officially appointed as a proxy voter cannot be refused a ballot paper or the opportunity to vote on the grounds of mental or physical incapacity. Polling station staff must ensure that disabled voters are not offered a lower standard of service than other voters and should be able to explain what assistance is available to disabled voters wishing to vote in person at a polling station. Disabled voters are also entitled to:
- The right to request assistance to mark the ballot paper.
- Disabled voters may request the assistance of the Presiding Officer to mark the ballot paper for them. Alternatively, they can bring someone with them to help them vote (this person must be an immediate family member over 18 years old or a qualified voter).
- Tactile voting device. This is a plastic device that is fixed onto the ballot paper so visually impaired people or those with limited dexterity can mark their ballot paper in secret. A large print version of the ballot paper should be clearly displayed inside the polling station and a copy can be given to voters to take with them into the polling booth. A voter can’t vote on the large print version, but it can be used for reference.
- Assistance to voters unable to gain access to the polling station.
- It is the responsibility of the relevant council to designate polling places within their area and to keep these under review. In designating polling places, the council must have regard to accessibility for disabled voters. If a voter is unable to enter the polling station because of physical disability, the Presiding Officer may take the ballot paper to the voter.
There are some politicians with disabilities as follows:
- Anne Begg, MP since 1997, wheelchair user.
- Jane Campbell, Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, disabled rights activist and member of the House of Lords, was born with Spinal muscular atrophy.
- Susan Cunliffe-Lister, Countess of Swinton and Baroness Masham of Ilton, politician, had several parts of her body paralysed following a car accident.
- Ian Fraser, Baron Fraser of Lonsdale, MP several times between 1924 and 1958, then first life peer appointed to the House of Lords in 1958, blinded in action during the First World War.
- Tanni Grey-Thompson, Baroness Grey-Thompson, disabled athlete and Member of the House of Lords, was born with Spina bifida.
- Nick Griffin, Chairman of the BNP, is blind in one eye, following an accident in 1990 involving a shotgun cartridge.
- Davina Ingrams, 18th Baroness Darcy de Knayth, member of the House of Lords, paralyzed from neck down following a car accident.
- Colin Low, Baron Low of Dalston was born blind.
- David Maclean, Baron Blencathra, MP (1983–2010) currently sitting to the House of Lords, since 1996 has Multiple sclerosis.
From my point of view
I believe that people with disabilities should have the right to vote because they are entitled to their opinions. Some people may have disabilities but they are aware what’s going on around them everyday. We do our best to treat those with disabilities equally to others and I do personally think that people with disabilities should get a lot of support when it comes to voting in the election. When I turned 18, I got to vote for the first time. I didn’t know much anything about voting or who to vote for and today I still don’t know much about voting or which party to vote for. I think if you’re going to vote and you don’t understand how voting works or which party to vote for, each party should give out more information about what makes their party better than others and see whether their party would make a change if they win the election.
If there was an App for voting I think a lot more people will vote especially for young people and for those who are disabled who have touch screen phone or a tablets.
When you vote, you’re telling elected officials and lawmakers how you feel about education, public safety, social security, health care, and other important issues. Remember: there is power in numbers, and when you vote and your family vote too, you can truly make a difference. You’re looking out for the futures. Your vote is your voice.
Here are some really helpful websites that give more information on the political parties and how to vote etc.