To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 22 March 2021 to Question 169884 on Voting Methods: Visual Impairment, for what reasons the answer to that Question did not specify how many local authorities are due to take part in his Department's pilot schemes of the audio voting device.
The Government has been considering the most appropriate approach to further evidence gathering in this area. We are keen to understand how an accessible audio device would in principle operate in a 'live' poll when used in conjunction with the tactile voting device and are therefore working with the RNIB and one local authority to test that during the forthcoming polls. The decision to test with one local authority has been informed by the need to progress this work with the need to respect public health regulations, the significant workload that a difficult combination of polls has created in some areas and to ensure any testing does not create additional risk, particularly to a group of potentially vulnerable people.
This work will allow us to build on previous evidence gathering we have undertaken with both people with sight loss and electoral administrators. We are grateful to the RNIB and local authority for their hard work and commitment, noting the operational challenges more generally with these polls.