Campaign to Enable the vote for learning disabled Scots


Scottish Parliament Conservative Party candidate for Airdrie and Shotts Eric Holford chats to Enable service users at a recent event.

Enable Scotland hopes its campaign will boost the number of Scots with learning disabilities who vote in the Holyrood election.

Susan Smith's photo

19th April 2016 by Susan Smith 0 Comments

Enable Scotland has launched a campaign make voting much more accessible for people who have learning disabilities.

Scotland’s leading learning disability charity has joined forces with the Electoral Commission to launch #Enablethevote in time for the Scottish Parliament election on 5 May.

The campaign includes a suite of factsheets, available on the charity’s website to download, including What happens at the Polling Station, an easy-read guide that goes through the process of voting at the polling station.

Jan Savage

Jan Savage

We want everyone to know that their vote matters and that support is available to make the whole voting process more accessible

A Guide for Family Carers also answers common questions on how to support someone to vote.

Jan Savage, Enable's executive director of campaigns and external affairs, said: “Traditionally the number of people who have a learning disability who vote is only around 30 per cent.“

"Yet a survey by our sister organisation, Mencap, showed 70% intended to vote. Unfortunately the survey also found that 60% of people who have learning disabilities found the process of voting too difficult.

"This is why we’ve launched our #Enablethevote campaign and produced resources for people who have learning disabilities and their families to help get people ready to vote.

“We want everyone to know that their vote matters and that support is available to make the whole voting process more accessible.”

As part of the campaign, the charity will be asking all parties to make 2016 an easy read election.

Ivan Cohen, chair of the charity’s national Advisory Committee, said: “Enable Scotland has helped us understand why we should vote and how to vote, but the parties need to tell us why we should vote for them.

“We have a lot to say about issues such as welfare reform, and how that affects us. We are also worried about transport and jobs.

“We want to know what the parties are saying about these things and what they will do if they are elected. We need that information to be accessible so we can understand what the parties are promising and make our vote based on that.

“We are asking parties to make their accessible manifestos available at the same time as their full manifestos. Then, like everyone else, we will have enough time to think about what party we will vote for.”

Andy O’Neill, head of the Electoral Commission in Scotland, added: “It is important that there are no barriers to participating in our elections and this means ensuring that both the voting process and information about how to register and vote are accessible to all.

"We are delighted to be working in partnership with Enable Scotland to ensure that people with learning disabilities are supported to play a full and active part in Scottish democracy."