Decided to venture out to vote in the European and local election yesterday. Went with a friend but told her to go ahead of me and vote so that I had to test out the facilities put in place for blind and partially sighted people.
I have to say that I am still very unimpressed. Before I go any further I’d just like to point out that the man who helped me was very pleasant and helpful and the problems I encountered were in no way down to the staff at the polling station.
Firstly there is no Braille ballot paper, so a blind person has to have it read and remember the number for the candidate they wish to vote for. This isn’t too difficult but shouldn’t really have to happen.
Then comes the fun part. A template which just lays over the form with nothing to anchor it down. It isn’t even the full size of the paper so can’t be lined up by a blind person independently. Each number has a flap on the edge of the template which has to be folded back. These were a little stiff and the act of folding them meant that I moved the template and had to call the member of staff back to straighten up the template again.
It must have been obvious which flap I had folded back, so my vote was no longer secret.
In this day and age, I really don’t know why we can’t have online voting. As well as being accessible to blind and partially sighted people who have internet access, as well as other disabled people who can’t get out to vote, I believe that a lot of non-disabled people would be more inclined to vote if they could do it from their own home, thus increasing what is becoming a lower and lower turn-out.