Voting Methods: Visual Impairment

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities written question – answered on 24th November 2021.

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Photo of Daisy Cooper Daisy Cooper Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Education)

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, pursuant to the Answer of 26 October to Question 58512 on Voting Methods: Visual Impairment, what assessment he has made of representations from the Royal National Institution of Blind People and other disability charities, that the responsibility to prescribe a minimum standard of equipment to enable blind and partially sighted people to vote should stay with Government rather than with individual returning officers to ensure an equitable level of support nationally.

Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch Minister for Equalities, Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (jointly with Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

The Government welcomes the engagement from the RNIB and other disability charities in this important area. As noted in the response to Question UIN 58512, the intention of the policy is to improve the support available to voters with disabilities and ensure that Returning Officers are better able to support people with a wider range of disabilities by removing barriers to change and innovation.

This change has arisen following the Government's Call for Evidence on Access to Elections. Responses from disabled people and organisations that represent their interests made clear that the current approach of requiring Returning Officers to solely provide a prescribed device was not the best approach to meet the varied needs of disabled electors. Returning Officers are best placed to respond to the needs of their local communities and ensure that people get the right support.

Our new proposals will be supported by guidance from the Electoral Commission, and will involve a wide range of engagement with relevant stakeholders.

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