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Elections Bill - Letter to the Editor

Letter from: Anna Tylor

Chair of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

Dear Sir/Madam,

The right to a secret vote has been enshrined in law since the Ballot Act was introduced 150 years ago. Remarkably, blind and partially sighted people are still unable to access this right. Four in five blind people say they cannot vote both independently and in secret. People regularly report the humiliation they feel in having to share their vote in public with polling station staff in a hushed tone. 

The new Elections Bill, being voted on by MPs on Monday 17 January, weakens the protections for blind and partially sighted people to vote independently. The Bill removes any guarantee or consistency of what to expect when we go to cast our vote with the removal of existing arrangements. Blind and partially sighted people, for all practical purposes, will no longer have the sanctity of a secret ballot enshrined in law. 

We support the Government’s aspirations for improved accessibility for disabled voters, but this Bill has managed to achieve the absolute opposite for blind and partially sighted voters. We now urgently call on MPs to vote for amendment two of the Elections Bill to maintain existing protections for blind and partially sighted voters.