Anger over government’s ‘pathetic’ election access report
Summary: The government’s response to a consultation on how to make voting more accessible to disabled people has sparked anger among disabled campaigners, after it failed to offer a single new measure to improve access.
One disabled campaigner branded the government’s report “pathetic” while another said the failure to act had made him “really angry”.
The new report includes a summary of about 250 responses to a call for evidence issued by the Cabinet Office 12 months ago, which asked for disabled people’s views on voting and registering to vote.
But of the 17 “actions” suggested by the Cabinet Office in its report, 13 state only that the government will “consider”, “reconsider” or “discuss” taking certain actions, including asking advisers to consider what outreach services could be provided to support disabled people in care homes to vote.
Another action is “to continue to consider the needs of disabled people when implementing changes to election or electoral registration processes”.
Of the four that are not just considering further action, two call for the promotion of existing guidance or the use of existing equipment, one is to ensure effective training of polling station staff, and the other is a call for a review of existing guidance.
Graham Kirwan, who was forced to take legal action against his local council over its failure to make the process of registering to vote and voting accessible to him as a visually-impaired person, said the government’s failure to act made him “really angry”.
Among the barriers he faces are that his local authority refuses to send him his voting information via email, rather than in the post, and fails to provide CCTV magnification equipment at his polling station that would allow him to read information about the candidates (the large print information available is not large enough for him to read).
Even if magnification equipment was available, the tactile voting device used in polling stations is not fit for purpose, he says – the government report says others, including the charity RNIB, have made the same point – and so he still would not be able to vote independently and privately.
He is strongly in favour of allowing electronic voting, which he said would make the process far more accessible for him and other blind and visually-impaired people.
But the report appears to rule this out, saying that there were “significant concerns about the security of online voting and increased risk of electoral fraud and providing unproven systems to people who are already vulnerable in terms of engagement and participation would not be helpful”.
Kirwan said this was “unsurprising”.
He is convinced that the government is opposed to electronic voting because it would increase the number of young people voting in elections, and younger people are more likely to vote Labour.
Kirwan said: “The perception is that I should make every single effort I can to go to vote and should give up my right to a private vote if I want to vote that much.
“One of the fundamental pillars of our society is you have that right. It’s not just a vote. It’s a confidential vote.”
Deborah King, co-founder of Disability Politics UK, said the report was “pathetic”.
She said: “The government response shows the huge political inertia which exists in relation to disability and political rights. Kicking the can down the road seems to be the policy.
“The government could develop an online training course on disability and voting rights.
“All staff working in polling stations and electoral services could be required to take the training. The training course could be developed before Christmas.
“The proposal that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) should include [awareness of]voting rights in a CQC assessment can also be implemented promptly. GPs, care homes, hospitals and mental health units should all be assessed on this.”
There was further anger after the minister for the constitution, Chloe Smith, said in promoting the report: “Every voice matters and this government is going to take action to ensure that disabled people have their voices heard.”
This came only days after Disability News Service revealed how Sarah Newton, the minister for disabled people, had refused to meet a coalition of disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) to discuss the UK’s progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Mark Harrison, from the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance, which is part of the coalition, said he was “astonished and angry” at Smith’s “misleading” comments.
He said: “Her government has ignored the UN, both the inquiry and the concluding observations, and the minister for disabled people has refused to meet UK DPOs.
“Her cynicism and the government’s cynicism know no bounds.”
The Cabinet Office refused to answer a series of questions this week, including whether Newton’s actions meant Smith was wrong to say the government was taking action to ensure disabled people’s voices were heard, and why so little had been done since the Conservative party’s 2017 general election manifesto promised to make the electoral registration process “as accessible as possible so that every voice counts”.
A Cabinet Office spokeswoman also refused to say why the government was apparently ignoring the call by the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities last September for the UK to take action to improve access to voting “in close consultation” with DPOs.
There are no DPOs on the government’s accessibility of elections working group, which instead includes several disability charities including Mencap, RNIB, Scope, Rethink and United Response.
The Cabinet Office spokeswoman also failed to say if the government was ruling out electronic voting.
But she said in a statement: “There are already a range of statutory measures in place to support disabled people to vote at elections.
“The evidence received from the call for evidence on access to elections has been analysed in partnership with the government’s expert access to elections working group.
“They have identified a number of actions to be taken forward to improve the voting experience of disabled people.”
The Cabinet Office also said that it had improved the accessibility of the Register to Vote website and was about to introduce an easy read guide on its homepage.
Last year it announced changes to the Certificate of Vision Impairment process, which meant that local authorities could contact someone newly certified with a sight impairment to ask if they needed help or support with registering to vote or voting.
Source: Disability News Service
Other recent news items:
- Doctors’ union finally agrees to spread the word
- Disability Politics UK: call to prioritise step free access
- Children with disabilities: targeted violence and hostility
- Dementia care: how social enterprises are developing products and services
- Adass spring seminar: four things you need to know
- The Disability Audit: the eight coalition policies that have hit disabled people
- DWP told to publish ESA deaths report, after two-year delay
- The struggle to find work when you have Down's syndrome
- PIP Delay Crisis Over, Claims DWP
- Meet Justin Tomlinson MP- New Minister For Disabled People
- A quick guide to new care minister Alistair Burt
- How to use your disability as a strength when applying for jobs
- Devastating impact of cuts on disabled people
- NHS ‘has wasted more than a year’ on latest bid to improve wheelchair services
- Five Thousand Disabled Adults Sexually Abused In Last 2 Years Says NSPCC
- ESA Claimant Takes On Maximus And Wins
- One in five benefit-related deaths involved sanctions, admits DWP
- Manchester United tell family with disabled son to watch Stockport instead
- Joint mental health commissioning strategy
- New parliament sees number of disabled MPs plunge
- Motability under spotlight over cuts to grants… despite £190 million reserves
- Disabled people ‘should come together in new national body’
- 'It's a great honour': Selby appoints UK's first mayor with learning disabilities
- Voluntary Community Social Enterprise Review website
- Cameron downgrades minister for disabled people
- Poor UK cancer survival rates linked to lack of GP direct access to scans
- Charity highlights role of siblings in supporting adults with a disability
- Queen’s Speech fails to mention social care funding
- Queen’s speech ‘suggests the worst is yet to come'
- TV industry must improve representation of disabled people
- The bionic suit helping wheelchair users get back on their feet
- New project to tackle mental health issues
- Equality watchdog contradicts football’s Premier League over access
- Schools 'must improve support for diabetic children'
- National Theatre plans shows on issue of disability
- Rise in mental health bed occupancy
- Watchdog writes to Man Utd after stewards confiscate walking aids from fans
- Government cuts ‘could see disabled people slide back to the bad old days’
- Disabled payment delay unlawful, judge rules
- The 'dragons' who want to help disabled people start their own business
- Boy, 12, wins £120,000 in damages after swine-flu jab left him 'severely disabled' by narcolepsy
- DWP ignores watchdog’s deadline over benefit-related deaths
- Man who cannot walk or talk called for jobcentre 'back to work' interview
- UK woman can ride bike for first time with 'world's most lifelike bionic hand'
- GPs to refer more patients with low-risk cancer symptoms under new NICE guidance
- Disability campaigners clash with police inside parliament over benefit cuts
- Indefinite Award DLA Transfer To PIP Will Start From July In Certain Postcodes
- Disabled children less happy with hospital care than peers
- ILF closure: Process has caused ‘fear, stress and anxiety’, say researchers
- Disability poverty rose sharply in fourth year of coalition
- UK services failing patients with dementia
- Shadow disability minister admits backing assisted suicide bill
- Disabled people's rights threatened by government cuts, campaigners warn
- BBC Three’s ‘Defying The Label’ Season
- From 'bloodied knees' to the House of Commons as a disabled MP
- Mental health patients sent hundreds of miles for beds as out of area placements rise 23 per cent
- Systematic over-medication blights learning disability care
- The Superhumans return to Channel 4
- Accessible Information Standard Approved
- Doctors demand return of lung cancer awareness campaign
- David O’Mar, 58, Found Fit For Work Two Weeks Before His Death
- World First Bionic Eye Gives Hope To Millions
- Seven-day NHS to include child mental health services, minister confirms
- Court hears appeal on ‘unfair’ PIP 20 metre rule consultation
- New report by Business Disability Forum cites lack of skills in line managers as major barrier to retention of disabled employees
- Tanni says 10,000 signatures could finally transform wheelchair services
- BBC3 presenter and journalist crowdfunding to transform the lives of people with disabilities in Ghana
- Disabled voters take pioneering legal action over election access
- Has disability sport lost its London 2012 Paralympics momentum?
- NHS Announce New Care Guidelines For Learning Disabilities
- Fresh evidence that ‘benefit scrounger rhetoric’ is causing hate crime
- Sanctioned Jobseekers With Mental Health Problems Are Not ‘Vulnerable’ Says DWP
- Clubs “Neglecting Responsibility” To Disabled Fans
- Latest Figures Show Massive Rise In ESA Sanctions
- ‘Bizarre’ figures raise fears over ministers’ plans for ESA
- School nurses ‘need better mental health training’
- Number of people developing dementia 'stabilising'
- Boy, nine, fitted with first prosthetic hand that can change grip with gestures
- Iain Duncan Smith criticises employers over disability employment gap
- Disability benefit sanctions soar by 30% in a year
- Thousands have died after being found fit for work, DWP figures show
- Goths at risk of depression or self-harming, research says
- Elderly 'ripped off' in mobility scooter market
- GPs are missing cancer in children - because they 'don't have enough training'
- IDS announces 'fitness for work' U-turn that was five years in the making
- People with autism and learning disabilities excel in creative thinking, study shows
- Starbucks apologises for telling woman she was not 'disabled enough' to use the toilet
- DLA Lifetime Award PIP Transition Started from 1 September in 29 New Areas
- Successful 'Fit for Work' Appeals at Highest Ever Level, Show DWP Stats
- Why is our justice system failing vulnerable people?
- UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
- Coroners 'ground breaking' verdict: Suicide was 'triggered' by 'fit for work' test
- Schoolboy calls for more disabled characters in children's books
- The quadruple amputee who needs the correct prosthetic
- Welfare to work programme failing disabled and ill jobseekers, say charities
- Disabled fans 'delighted' as Premier League finally acts on access
- Two-thirds of adult social care requests rejected by local councils
- Independent Living Fund: Government silence 'suggests something to hide'
- UK employers report rise in mental health problems: CIPD study
- UN inquiry considers alleged UK disability rights violations
- Parliament's own disability group picks first non-disabled chair in nearly 50 years
- Dementia drug 'keeps patients out of nursing homes'
- Disability benefit cuts will actually make it harder for disabled people to find work,coalition of 60 charities warns
- Problems with the care and treatment provided by the NHS and/or difficulties in accessing health services?
- Consultation on the proposed new adult social care strategy
- The Leicestershire Advice Service for Social Care is here to guide you
- Minister: MPs must help 'open doors' for disabled jobseekers
- 'Homes not hospitals': learning disability care to move to community
- Equality Act 'simply isn't strong enough' for BSL-users, peers are told
- Disability Hate Crimes Rise 41% In A Year
- Companies fear employing people with learning disabilities, survey reveals
- DWP cuts specialist disability employment advisors in jobcentres by over 60 per cent
- Watchdog 'must do more to support disabled people to fight discrimination'
- ‘We must keep banging the drum,’ says bus campaigner after five-year fight for justice
- 2,000 disabled people wrongly declared ‘fit to work’ by DWP in just three months
- Local authorities 'spend close to nothing on mental health'
- Rock band with learning disabilities release first single
- NICE seeks to improve diagnosis and treatment of cerebral palsy
- Premier League clubs face legal threat unless disabled access is improved
- UK’s progress on disability rights ‘patchy and tortuous’, UN told
- Peer pressure sees minister finally announce date for taxi access laws
- Stop the NHS slashing vulnerable people’s care packages in and around Leicestershire
- Minister tells industries to increase representation of disabled people
- Disabled children in England 'finding it increasingly hard to access council care'
- Wheelchair Rugby Loses Funding Appeal
- Plans that could force people into institutions could be ‘front line’ of national problem
- Young people 'fear stigma' if they ask for mental-health help
- Disability benefits process is 'inherently flawed', MPs told
- Businesses woefully ill-equipped to deal with Britain's rapidly growing mental health crisis
- Cash boost for pupils with special needs and disability
- PIP investigation: ‘Horrific’ suicide question sparks fresh assessment inquiry calls
- Disability report: Being disabled in Britain
- Stop PIP reassessments for patients with progressive diseases, campaigners say
- Patients with learning disabilities missing out on health checks
- Thousands have disability vehicles taken away
- Aspire announces GLL and LCiL as first partners to lead InstructAbility
- Easy read guide to voting by post
- Online campaign ‘could enable disabled people to affect election outcome’
- Health Committee inquiry and report: Brexit and Health and Social Care – People and Process
- Women’s Resource Centre report: the Impact of Austerity Measures on Women’s Voluntary and Community Organisations
- Disabled people ‘forced into dangerous workfare that breaches health and safety laws’
- Mental Health Foundation report: Surviving or Thriving? The State of the UK’s Mental Health
- Stirling University to launch home dementia app
- General Election 2017: What are the parties promising disabled people?
- Anger, resignation… and optimism in wake of general election result
- New disabled MPs pledge to fight for rights in parliament
- Queen’s speech: May ‘abandons’ election pledge on access
- The waiting time for a vital disability benefit has risen hugely in 6 months
- Almost 6,000 mental health patients sent out of area for care last year
- Patients increasingly forced to crowdfund their own wheelchairs as NHS provision not enough, doctors warn
- Years of austerity have left personal assistance in ‘very fragile state’
- Over Half Of Foodbank Users Are Households With A Disabled Person
- Prince Harry launches brain injury card in Suffolk
- Iain Duncan Smith says work capability assessments don't work and are 'too harsh'
- PIP investigation: 200 cases of dishonesty… and still DWP, Atos and Capita refuse to act
- Global blindness set to 'triple by 2050'
- My disability abortion bill could halt Britain’s slide towards eugenics, says Tory peer
- Jobcentre Staff Have An Alarming Lack Of Confidence Dealing With Disabled Claimants
- BBC initiative for disabled actors is a ‘wake-up call’ for producers
- Bus industry set to face fresh legal action over access to wheelchair space
- Government accused of breaching UN convention in its treatment of disabled people
- Theresa May admits UK mental health services are 'patchy'
- 2,000 children with learning disabilities left without a school
- UK faces UN examination: Government cuts caused ‘human catastrophe’
- Half of parents of disabled children forced to reduce working hours due to 'unlawful' cuts to school transport
- Summit meeting will aim to bring movement together on independent living
- Have you got the wrong impression about schizophrenia?
- Quarter of 14-year-old girls 'have signs of depression'
- Council’s review finds PIP ‘not fit for purpose’
- Epilepsy medication impact not shared
- What is universal credit - and what's the problem?
- Calls for Amazon to ban 'anorexia hoodie'
- Green man crossings 'too fast' for people with arthritis
- Mental health patients being failed as services face 'potent mix' of workforce cuts and rising demand, shows report
- Universal Credit helpline charges scrapped
- Hate crimes against disabled children rise 150 per cent in two years
- Modelling debut for boy, 11, with Down's syndrome
- Wheelchair access at Premier League grounds improved after campaigning
- Mental health sees 300,000 people leave their jobs each year
- Care Quality Commission report: Annual State of Health Care and Adult Social Care in England 2016/17
- Access to Work: ‘Scheme’s future in jeopardy through cuts and incompetence’
- Tailored treatment study aims to improve prostate cancer care
- Government admits disabled people have been receiving too little financial support from DWP
- Disabled people worry about telling employers of their condition
- Disabled woman takes DWP minister to court over PIP mental health changes
- Women and disabled people hit hardest by years of austerity, report confirms
- New year’s honours recognise campaigners, inventor and Paralympians
- Esther McVey makes disability benefits U-turn over payments
- Educational support for deaf children in England 'in complete disarray'
- Blue badge scheme could be extended to cover autism and dementia
- More than 220,000 people scored zero on disability benefits test
- MPs launch inquiry into online abuse of disabled people, following Katie Price petition
- Open letter from mental health activists probes charity’s links to DWP
- UK sick pay is found to breach international legal obligations
- Psychosis patients 'not getting best care'
- DWP promises no-one will lose out in huge review of 1.6 million PIP cases
- Majority of disability benefit claimants being left with not enough to live on, campaigners warn
- Suffragettes needed? The women still struggling to vote
- New 'miracle jab' promises to ease arthritis pain - and save the NHS billions too
- Antipsychotic drug found to relieve symptoms suffered by millions of people with Alzheimer's disease
- Government’s suicide prevention boss refuses to call for action on ESA risk stats
- Disabled peer raises ‘deep concerns’ over impact of Brexit bill on rights
- PIP assessments: 'Lack of trust' in benefits systems
- Anti-depressants: Major study finds they work
- More than a million benefits sanctions imposed on disabled people since 2010
- Thefts of disabled blue badge parking permits quadruple in England
- High Court rules Tories' disability benefit changes ‘blatantly discriminate’ against mental health patients
- Echolocation could help blind people learn to navigate like bats
- Call for government to ditch ‘discriminatory’ PIP rules for NHS care home stays
- Mystery over shock fall in disability benefits paid to older people
- Disabled passengers' champion unveiled
- Wheelchair users in UK to be given enhanced rights for bus travel
- Spring statement ‘shows disabled people will continue to bear brunt of austerity’
- House of Commons could replace benches with fold-down seats to improve access for disabled MPs
- NHS must prepare for `huge´ demand for new Alzheimer´s drugs, experts warn
- Access to work: Funding increase for disabled workers
- Doctors hope for blindness cure after restoring patients' sight
- New initiative to address ticketing barriers for deaf and disabled fans
- NICE: 'Care providers must ask people with LD what they want out of life'
- Disabled people struggle to afford food and heating, study says
- Government faces legal action over election access fund
- Disability-led ensemble to play BBC Proms
- Women across UK denied mental healthcare around childbirth, say doctors
- Robot helps Jack McLinden, 14, to be Everton mascot
- Cystic fibrosis: Company urged to lower cost of life-changing drug
- Disabled people split over personal health budget expansion plans
- Benefits applications forms to be made more accessible
- Government response to damning inquiry into disability benefit system 'falls short', say MPs
- EHRC appoints eight disabled people to advisory committee
- Sharp rise under-11s referred for mental health help
- Feel the beat: deaf fans fight for access to live music
- Health and Social Care Committee report: The Government’s Green Paper on mental health: failing a generation
- Disabled people face ‘hidden crisis’ in accessible housing
- Equality watchdog ‘considering legal action against government’ over rail access failures
- TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference: ‘Critically-flawed universal credit must be scrapped’
- Call for national research as fears grow over loss of DPOs
- DWP is failing ‘vulnerable’ claimants of universal credit, says watchdog
- US approves UK-grown marijuana-based epilepsy drug
- A Better Understanding of Chronic Pain in CP Patients Is Needed, Review Study Suggests
- Student mental health support must improve, universities told
- Minister lauds £600,000 for rail access… after her department confirms £47 million in cuts
- Scientists have discovered a new type of depression: Finding will pave the way for new treatments for 30% of patients who do not respond to drugs
- Penny Mordaunt becomes first ever government minister to use British Sign Language in Parliament
- Could psychedelics transform mental health?
- Disability Confident employers promise less than one job each on average
- Patients face autism referral and assessment 'lottery'
- Government will pay arrears to thousands of benefit claimants
- Antidepressant prescriptions for children on the rise
- Watchdog’s ‘issues of concern’ over regulator’s treatment of PIP complaints
- Blue badge scheme to provide ‘lifeline’ for mentally ill people
- Seven-year-old double amputee is cast by River Island to model its new active wear range - as the little girl's proud father says there's 'no stopping her'
- Thousands of mothers left to cope alone with mental illness
- International disability community sign up to progress
- Disabled children waiting too long for NHS wheelchairs
- DWP repeatedly breaches FoI laws ‘in bid to hide secret jobcentre reports’
- Quarter of 14-year-old girls in UK have self-harmed, report finds
- Scientists 3D-print a 'bionic eye' that could soon let blind people see again
- Autism dogs: Call for regulation as demand quadruples
- Minister snubs DPOs – and ‘breaches UN convention’ – by refusing meeting
- 'Black hole' in youth mental health support
- Anger over government’s ‘pathetic’ election access report