Tactile voting device
If you have difficulty completing the standard print ballot paper, you can use a tactile voting device to help mark your vote in the correct place.
The tactile voting device has a sticky backing, which attaches on top of your ballot paper. It has numbered lift up flaps (the numbers are raised and in braille) directly over the boxes where you mark your vote.
You can use the large print ballot form in the polling station as a guide to follow, or ask someone (a companion or polling station staff) to read out the list of candidates to you. The candidates are in alphabetical order. You will need to remember the number of the candidate you wish to vote for, then lift the flap with the same number and mark your cross (X) in the box.
You can then detach the tactile device and fold your ballot paper in half before posting it in the ballot box.
Seeing AI or video magnifying glasses can also be used in polling stations as a reasonable adjustment in the equality act. Please inform the Presiding Officer in the polling station if you will be using these before you go to the polling booth.
Unfortunately, audio devices will not be available by May 2021 elections, but we shall do everything possible to make voting as accessible and a positive experience as we can.
We are working with the RNIB and Beacon Centre for the Blind to provide as much support as possible and to assist with our training to ensure all Presiding Officers are as fully informed as possible.
Assistance from staff
Presiding officers will partake in additional training to ensure that they are knowledgeable and informed on how best to support you on the day.
Training will include briefings on technology applications, the tactile voting decide and video magnifying glasses to ensure staff are aware of what apps like these look like.
Voting with a companion
If you would prefer to bring a companion with you to assist in voting as opposed to receiving assistance from a member of staff at the polling station, this is possible.
Your companion must be either a close relative (aged 18 years or over) or a qualified elector. The voter should ask the permission of the Presiding Officer to be assisted by their companion.
The companion, not the voter, is required by law to complete a simple declaration, ‘Declaration to be made by the companion of a voter with disabilities’. The companion should fill out the declaration and sign the document.
Accessibility considerations and COVID-19 measures at polling stations
- Highly visible tape used for floor marking signalling one-way system
- Signage in larger print
- Fewer voters allowed in the polling station at one time
- Covid marshals on hand to provide assistance
- Separate entrances and exits where possible
- Altered layouts to allow for social distancing when waiting to vote and when completing a ballot paper, but still ensuring electors can cast their vote in secret
- Polling station staff wearing PPE
- Voters asked to wear face covering where possible and use hand sanitiser when they enter the polling station
- Voters encouraged to bring their own pen or pencil
- Polling booths regularly sanitised.
These measures may mean electors have to wait for longer than usual to be able to cast their vote.
Busy times in polling stations often include 7am to 9.30am, lunchtime, 3.30pm to 4.30pm and 6pm to 8pm. Trying to avoid these peak times may mean voters have to wait for a shorter period of time. Anyone queuing to vote at a polling station by 10pm will still be able to vote.