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Democracy Volunteers: Special election report

Earlier this morning, Democracy Volunteers launched its report into the voting experiences of blind and partially sighted people in the 2021 London Mayoral Elections.

Democracy Volunteers is a non-profit organisation that observes elections throughout the UK, and abroad, to improve and maintain the quality of democracy. Their mission is to improve the quality of democratic elections, by advising those who legislate for, administer and oversee elections, to enhance them for the benefit of voters.

In 2021, Democracy Volunteers conducted research into experiences of voting for blind and partially sighted voters in London. The research assessed the suitability of current voting procedures for blind and partially sighted people who vote in London.

The research objective was to find out what kinds of voting aids would help blind and partially sighted voters to vote independently. Another objective was to make recommendations on how the voting process can be improved for blind and partially sighted voters in the future.

London Vision worked with Democracy Volunteers to shape a survey to record the experiences of blind and partially sighted voters in London. London Vision also facilitated a focus group with the London Sight Loss Council to help the report authors understand voter experiences, and the kinds of improvements that could help facilitate independent and private voting.

The report offered five key recommendations for improving voter experiences:

  1. Staff should undergo specific and detailed training of how to assist blind and partially sighted voters in the polling station.
  2. The Tactile Voting Device and Large Print Ballot Paper should both be located on the polling staffs’ desk so blind and partially sighted voters are made aware of their presence, and these should be proactively offered to voters when appropriate.
  3. Lighting conditions in polling booths must improve and be consistently above the 100 LUX minimum to assure defined perception of detail for voters to cast their vote. We recommend councils check lighting levels in proposed polling stations as part of their regular reviews of polling places, generally conducted before every major election.
  4. Large Print ballot papers should also be displayed in disabled access polling booths as well as under Recommendation 2.
  5. Public pilot trials should be conducted to assess the effectiveness of a range of ameliorations such as increased lighting, large print ballot papers in polling booths, telephone services to aid voting and wider use of magnifying glasses already placed in polling booths.

To read the full report, please click here.


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