Rock the VoteTuesday 31 March, 2015
The General Election takes place this year on May 7th and David (seen right), who is supported by RLO, attended an All Party Parliamentary Group ‘APPG’ at the House of Commons to find out what was being done to help people with learning disabilities to vote
Speakers included MPs and Tom Clarke, who is the joint chair of the APPG. People with a learning disability gave their own experiences of how difficult it can be to exercise their right to vote.
We heard about several campaigns including, Love my Vote, Every Vote Counts and Me and My Vote – produced by different organisations with useful information for people with learning disabilities and their supporters.
A lot of speakers talked about the change in the way you register to vote and how that has made things more difficult. Alex Robertson from the Electoral Commission said that shouldn’t be the case and they wanted to help. Being registered to vote is very important – if you aren’t registered you can’t vote on Election Day. Mark Harper MP, the Minister for Disabled People, said that it was really important that politicians hear what people with learning disabilities have to say and that he hoped that a lot more people with learning disabilities would vote at this general election.
Some of the information that was shared at the meeting was about numbers of people voting. The number of people with a learning disability who vote is low.
· Less than one in three people with a learning disability (31%) reported that they voted in the 2001 general election. Unfortunately there are no figures for the 2005 and 2010 elections.
· A recent survey conducted by Mencap found that 70% of people with a learning disability say they intend to vote in the forthcoming election.
· However, 60% said they found the process of registering to vote too difficult and 17% said they had been turned away from a polling station because they had a learning disability.