Innovative Policy 2019 on Independent Living and Political Participation

Empowering Individuals in their Right to Vote

ENABLE Scotland, the largest member-led learning disability organization in Scotland, works alongside the UK Electoral Commission – the independent election standards body – to create easy-read voting guides to support people with learning disabilities to vote. In addition, they produce voting factsheets for family members and support workers, and run voting workshops and accessible hustings (political assemblies, usually prior to an election). Initially for the 2016 parliamentary election and later for the 2017 local council elections, #ENABLEtheVote supported 183 people with disabilities, with 80 per cent exercising their right to vote in 2016 and 91 per cent in 2017.

“Through #ENABLEtheVote, ENABLE Scotland seeks to ensure that everyone who has a learning disability has the opportunity to exercise their democratic right to vote with confidence, enabled with the tools to make an informed choice and have their voice heard”

Theresa ShearerCEO, ENABLE Scotland
About the policy at a glance
Laws and regulations involved:Electoral Commission – Easy Read Voting Guide
Responsible Body:ENABLE Scotland / UK Electoral Commission
Country
of Implementation
United Kingdom

FACTS & FIGURES

  • To date, 953 people have accessed easy-read voting factsheets.
  • ENABLE Scotland organized 18 accessible hustings in 2017–2018, up from eight in 2016–2017.

PROBLEMS TARGETED

According to a 2014 survey by Mencap – a UK-wide learning disability organization – 70 per cent of people who have a learning disability want to vote, but more than half find the process too difficult.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

ACE members question political candidates to the Scottish Parliamentary Elections at accessible hustings.

ENABLE Scotland and the UK Electoral Commission have developed co-branded, easy-read voting guides to empower people with learning disabilities to make informed choices in Scottish and UK politics, plus voting factsheets for family members and support workers. In addition, ENABLE Scotland provides interactive voting workshops and accessible hustings in communities across Scotland, where people with a learning disability meet their local politicians. The hustings are designed on a conversation-café model in which political representatives rotate among the various discussion groups.

More than 80 per cent of people with learning disabilities who engaged with #ENABLEtheVote exercised their vote in the Scottish parliamentary election in 2016, and this increased to 91 per cent in the 2017 local council elections. Issues raised by participants have been discussed more than 100 times in the Scottish Parliament, and one participant addressed the UK Parliament. Additionally, there has been a wider impact, with four of the five political parties in Scotland publishing easy-read manifestos for the first time.

OUTLOOK, TRANSFERABILITY AND FUNDING

ENABLE Scotland’s activism groups are 50 per cent funded by the Scottish Government, which meets the costs of delivering interactive voting workshops and accessible hustings. The easy read guides and factsheets are funded through fundraised income, and print costs are covered by the Electoral Commission, which has committed to continuing its partnership on the project.

ENABLE Scotland plans to use #ENABLEtheVote in future elections and referendums and expects to have the continuing support of the UK Electoral Commission.  It has also begun to explore how #ENABLEtheVote could be replicated further, including a presentation to the board of Inclusion Europe and by providing support to Plena Inclusion on the right to vote in Spain.

Jennifer and Tony-Lee studying easy read voting guides ahead of the local elections.

FACTSHEET

Download factsheet as accessible word
download

LINKS AND FURTHER READING