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Voting and elections

Find out about the work RNIB has been doing to make voting accessible for blind and partially sighted people in the UK.

A scenic view of Westminster bridge and the Houses of Parliament on a sunny day.

The right to vote independently, and in secret, is a cornerstone of our democracy. Yet blind and partially sighted people continue to face unacceptable barriers to exercising this fundamental right.

Ask your MP to become an RNIB Champion

Help RNIB make sure your MP represents people with sight loss effectively by inviting them to become an RNIB Champion.

The RNIB Champion scheme was set up as an informal way for MPs to pledge their commitment to support their constituents living with sight loss.

Over 120 MPs are currently signed up, with your help we can reach every MP.

Turned Out 2022 report

The majority of voters with sight loss continue to express frustration and humiliation due to barriers in exercising their basic democratic right to vote independently and in secret.

Our Turned Out 2022 report shares experiences of blind and partially sighted voters in the local elections of May 2022, and explains how changes in the Elections Act 2022 will have an impact on people with sight loss.

Electoral Commission guidance update

Early in 2023 we raised concerns about the Electoral Commission draft accessibility guidance for Returning Officers. The purpose of this guidance is to ensure disabled voters are supported to vote independently and in secret. During the consultation period, we felt the draft version would not do enough for blind and partially sighted people.

We are pleased the Electoral Commission took on board our feedback and has revised its guidance. The published guidance now makes reference to the specific barriers blind and partially sighted people face at the polling station, and sets out how Returning Officers can use sight loss registers to communicate with blind and partially sighted people.

While the accessibility guidance is far more robust than the previous draft version, there is still uncertainty about whether it will be able to deliver all the change we need at polling stations. For example, there is no guarantee of audio provision at the polling station and there are supply issues for some accessible voting devices.

We will be monitoring the May 2023 local elections in England to evaluate the impact of this guidance. We will also continue to work with the Electoral Commission to bring about meaningful change.

The Elections Act

In April 2022, following RNIB’s vigorous campaigning over many months, the Government backed changes to its Elections Bill. These were put forward by Lord Holmes of Richmond and mean that the importance of ensuring a ‘secret’ vote and the ability to vote ‘independently’ have been recognised. The Elections Bill is now the Elections Act.

While we are pleased that the Government accepted these amendments there is still work to do to guarantee an independent and secret vote for blind and partially sighted people.