UK Disability Charity Revitalise, have conducted a study into the information available online regarding wheelchair access at polling stations.
Shockingly they found that out the 50 most marginal constituencies, only 3 had adequate access information online for wheelchair voters!
In their press release Revitalise state:
Wheelchair users wishing to exercise their right to cast their vote in person may be discouraged from doing so by a lack of online information about the access arrangements of polling stations, a new Revitalise study has found.
In an audit of the UK's 50 most marginal constituencies – where every vote is expected to count – Revitalise found that just three (6%) of the local authority websites administering polling stations in these crucial constituencies had adequate accessibility information for wheelchair voters online.
An astonishing 44 websites (88%) had no accessibility information for disabled people at all.
Revitalise also sent a 'secret shopper' email to the Electoral Services Team of each of the local authorities administering polling stations in the above constituencies, requesting basic information about the wheelchair accessibility of their polling stations. Of the 43 who had responded by close of business on 3 May, only 13 (30%) provided complete information about the accessibility of their polling stations for wheelchairs.
Revitalise studied the two other statutory sources of online information for voters, www.gov.uk and www.aboutmyvote.co.uk. Neither was found to have any specific information for disabled voters using wheelchairs. Worse, the charity discovered that many councils not providing online accessibility information routinely refer such enquiries to www.gov.uk. However, upon linking to the site, enquirers are referred back via a postcode search to the Electoral Services Departments of the council websites from which they came.
Revitalise is suggesting that this is indicative of a lack of joined-up working between the above bodies, which is putting disabled people at a disadvantage.
Revitalise has released a new video, entitled The Perils of Polling, a light-hearted take on the problems a wheelchair voter might encounter at a polling station, which aims to highlight the importance of choice and dignity for disabled voters.
Revitalise CEO Chris Simmonds commented: