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Polling Stations: Disabled

Volume 505: debated on Tuesday 2 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps are being taken to ensure disabled people have access to polling stations in the forthcoming General Election. (314555)

The Government believe that it is important that all electors have access to polling stations for all elections, including the forthcoming general election. We have introduced a number of measures to strengthen the existing arrangements and to provide additional support to make voting more accessible for all.

Local authorities are responsible for designating polling places and must carry out a full assessment of polling places at least every four years to ensure that so far as is practicable all venues are accessible to electors who are disabled.

Inside the polling station, returning officers are required to display an enlarged version of the ballot paper in polling stations and to provide upon request at polling stations, a large hand-held sample copy of the ballot paper for the assistance of visually impaired voters. Returning officers must also ensure that each polling station is supplied with a tactile voting device which is designed to enable blind and partially sighted voters to cast their vote independently without revealing their voting intentions to a third party. We have also provided that upon application to the presiding officer, all disabled voters may cast their vote with the assistance of a companion.