RNIB and Frimley Phoenix Cricket Club join forces to hand in petition calling for amends to Elections Bill
‘It’s just not cricket’
Yesterday, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and members of the Visually Impaired (VI) Frimley Phoenix Cricket Club handed in a petition to the office of Michael Gove in his constituency of Surrey Heath.
Over the course of eight weeks, RNIB has been running a petition as part of the #BlindVotersCount campaign calling on the Secretary of State not to take away the guarantee of a vote “without any assistance” for voters with sight loss, which was lost in the original drafting of the Elections Bill.
Off the back of RNIB’s campaigning, with over 7,000 people signing the charity’s petition, and with many campaigners contacting their MPs on this matter over the last six months, a number of amends have been made to the Bill which received Government backing last week in the House of Lords.
Following on from the petition hand-in, and the changes that the Government has been persuaded to make to the Elections Bill, RNIB will be working hard to monitor whether blind and partially sighted people do enjoy a secret and independent vote at future elections.
Sophie Dodgeon, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at RNIB, said: “RNIB has been extremely concerned about the original wording of the Elections Bill, which would water down legal protections for blind and partially sighted voters. This could have made it more difficult for people with sight loss to vote independently and in secret.
“We recognise the important amendments to the Bill that the Government has recently backed. Our aim after handing in our petition is to engage closely with the Electoral Commission, which will now have a statutory duty to create new guidance, and to monitor how this is implemented. The true test is whether or not blind and partially sighted people find that they can vote independently and in secret in future elections, and this remains to be seen.”
We should all have the opportunity to vote in privacy and be sure that our vote is our own. Cricket is a fantastic vehicle which, with the relevant adjustments, can be enjoyed by everyone. We are supporting the adjustments RNIB are calling for to make voting a secret and independent process for blind and partially sighted people.”
To find out more about RNIB’s work on accessible voting, visit www.rnib.org.uk/voting.