It’s really, really rubbish that 69% of polling stations are inaccessible. I was forced to vote in the street once, after the school that housed the polling station moved it into an inaccessible classroom without consulting or informing the Council. Then the polling booths are only suitable for people standing up.
But at least I can vote (or spoil my ballot paper or whatever.) There are many other disabled people who can’t, because the polling station isn’t physically accessible for people with mobility or dexterity impairments, or the polling station hasn’t provided the adjustments needed so that blind people, dyslexic people etc. can use the ballot paper. Or because the institution they are in hasn’t bothered to arrange for them to vote. Or because they are room or bed-bound due to lack of proper facilities and social support. And I could go on.
No doubt some people are thinking: why not do a Postal Vote? In my case it’s a fight against institutionalisation: the care home in which I live unilaterally registered all of its inmates for the Postal Vote without asking them or even telling them; so being the contrary bolshy git I am, I was determined to turn up in person – I want to be able to vote just as everybody else can, in the polling station. In any case, it’s widely known that the postal vote procedure is a nightmare for people with visual impairment, learning difficulties and so on.
Some people have been doing a lot of work on this over the years. This year, both the wonderful Trailblazers and Unity Law are taking this on.
Now I know what you’re thinking about Unity Law: corporate lawyers looking for a fast buck? The difference is, I have ultimate faith in Unity Law’s integrity, having worked with them for years: they do what they do to improve access with disabled people, not for the money. (I’m really cynical, so that’s high praise from me!!!)
If you experience difficulty voting on Thursday, and you’re on Twitter, please tweet with hashtag #PolledOut and the site of your polling station. Unity Law will then attempt to get the problem sorted, hopefully for this time if it isn’t too late but if not for the next election.
And on another note, if you’re sick of the election, sick of the Government, sick of the labeling and blaming of disabled people and other convenient scapegoats, I’ve put together a Youtube playlist called FUCK THE TORIES of cheery, irreverent and cathartic rabble-rousing music to cheer us all up a bit. (It may be a little justifiably sweary…) With thanks to DPAC.