Fight for accessible voting goes to the High Court

Post date: 
Tuesday, 5 March 2019
Category: 
Accessible information

On March 6,  RNIB attended a hearing in support of a Judicial Review brought against the Government by Rachael Andrews.

Rachael's case relates specifically to the use of the Tactile Voting Device (TVD) at elections.  A TVD sits over the ballot paper and is supposed to allow a blind or partially sighted person to select the candidate they want to vote for. However, even though the device allows someone to select a box to put their mark in, it cannot tell the person the name of the candidate they are putting their mark against.  This requires a companion, or a member of polling station staff, read out the list of candidates and where the candidate is in the list of candidates on the ballot paper.  Rachael's argument is that she is not able to made an independent and secret vote using only the TVD and therefore it is not fit for purpose.  

We also provided a 'witness statement' for this Judical Review, which detailed experiences of blind and partially sighted people regarding voting at General Elections.  In addition, we provided reasons for why we think that the Government needs to take urgent action to improve voting for blind and partially sighted people.

We have been calling on the Government to change the law that governs the type of tactile device that blind and partially sighted people can use to vote.  By changing the law alternative equipment that could overcome the limitations of the TVD and enable independent and secret voting could be explored. We don’t think the Government have acted quickly enough to change this law and are hopeful that this case will force them to act. 

The result of the Judicial Review is expected later this year and we will keep you informed about the decision.

What is a Judicial Review?

A Judicial review is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.