Voting In General Election: A Practical Guide

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Voting In General Election: A Practical Guide

westminster bridge big ben election guide

With the general election approaching, where do you stand as a disabled voter? In this practical guide Allana explains your rights as a voter with disability, and the practicalities of registering and casting your vote.

Heigh ho Heigh ho, it’s off to vote we go! Living in Scotland, you might just have heard that refrain a time or seven over the past three years? Please don’t reach for the Alt F4 buttons at this juncture, I faithfully promise that this post is no more than a guide to the practicalities of voting in June’s coming General Election.

Voting is one right that I absolutely do not take for granted. This said, I duly presented myself at my local polling station on the fifth of May, in readiness to get my tuppenceworth in. Only when the plastic voting guide had been fixed to my ballot paper did the thought occur to me: this is a list vote and I will likely choose more than one candidate. Will my ballot paper be spoiled because of my dreadful handwriting? My scrawl is on a par with that of most doctors’, and writing a legible number two is definitely beyond my capabilities. So anxious for my vote to count, I asked my other half to surreptitiously do the honours and we were good to go. This did get me wondering however, where do I stand as a disabled voter? Was what I just did even legal? And where could I find out the practical information I needed to make sure I wouldn’t encounter any hitches on June 8th?

Your Rights as a Disabled Voter

Mercifully, my ballot paper from May fifth was completely legal, so you don’t have to bake me that cake with a phial in just yet. I discovered this in the Electoral Commission’s fact sheet on disabled voters rights at the polling station.

The factsheet is far too extensive to begin to detail in this post so I won’t even attempt it. The one thing I do want to highlight however is: your local authority has a duty to make sure your rights are upheld! They must take proactive steps to ensure that every voter receives the same level of service at a polling station.

Registering to Vote

Now that we’ve got the government’s legal obligations to us down pat; let’s take care of business from our end. In order to have your say on June 8th, you have to be registered with the electoral commission. Most of you probably already will be. However, if you are not, In the words of Strictley’s Craig revel Horwood, it’s not a disaaaaaaaaaaster yet Daaaaaarling! You still have until midnight on the twenty-second of this month. To do it on line, click here. So long as you have your personal details to hand it should take around five minutes.

For those of you who prefer more traditional methods, you can print off the forms here.  You must fill it in and submit it to your local electoral office. You can find contact details for your local office by entering your postcode on the commission’s website or by calling your local council.
Alternatively, if you are not comfortable printing the form yourself, you can contact your local electoral office to send you one through the post. Remember, time is in short supply though so get your skates on!

How to Vote

We are spoiled for choice here in the UK, there are three ways you can cast your vote: in person at a polling station, by proxy – appointing someone to do it on your behalf, or by postal vote.There is not too much to be said about voting in person; no real planning is required if you choose to do it this way. If you are unfamiliar with the process however, a step by step guide includes some valuable information about asking for assistance for disabled voters.

Postal vote is a good alternative for those voters who are unable to attend a polling station themselves due to physical disability. In order to be eligible for a postal vote you will have to apply for one in advance. You can do this either by contacting your local electoral office and asking them to post one out, or by downloading the form online. Either way, the closing date for submitting it to your local electoral office is five pm on Tuesday twenty-third May. You will find everything you need to know about postal voting, as well as the form to apply for one here.
You will receive your ballot afterwards as well as the instructions for filling in the declaration that accompanies it. The completed ballot is returned to the electoral office either by yourself, someone you trust or picked up by the electoral officer, if you have pre-arranged to do so, by ten pm on June 8th.

Appointing someone you trust to vote by proxy on your behalf is a tad more complicated. Again, you need to apply to do so by first submitting a form to your electoral office. The closing date for submissions this time is Wednesday thirty-first May at five pm. Please make sure you use the correct form to apply however, or your proxy will be calling you every name under the sun, having embarked on a needless trek and you will not be able to vote. There are different ones depending on the reason you are appointing a proxy voter. See all you need to know hereabout the rules for appointing a proxy voter, as well as the relevant forms in this guide.

Other Useful Sources

Now that we have the important dates circled three times in the diary just to be sure, you can keep up to date with election news and issues facing disabled voters on Same Difference blog and on Scope. You see! True to my word, not one mention of parties or policies to be found in this post. Now I am off to practise my number two’s; writing them that is, minds out of the gutter!

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