United Kingdom General Election: 4 July 2024

Access to Democracy for Disabled People

 After the almost constant news coverage over the last day or so, it is difficult to ignore the fact that a United Kingdom (UK) General Election has been called! So what? What happens now?

Well, all the political parties in your local area will now begin to canvass and ask you to vote for their chosen candidate and continue to do so for the next 6 weeks – right up to polling day.

Scottish Party Leader Communication

So, what has Disability Equality Scotland done since the general election announcement?

Our Chief Executive Officer, Lyn Pornaro, wrote to the leaders of the main political parties in Scotland.

We informed them of the top 10 priority ‘key’ issues for disabled people in Scotland when deciding how they would vote on polling day, taken from the membership survey that we carried out earlier this year:

  1. Health and Social Care.
  2. Accessible Transport.
  3. Energy Bills.
  4. Tackling Poverty and Inequality.
  5. Accessible Parking.
  6. Tackling the Climate Crisis.
  7. Personal Independence Payment.
  8. Brexit.
  9. Social Security.
  10. Access to Courts and Justice.

We reinforced that disabled people are genuinely concerned about: the ongoing cost-of-living crisis; the challenges facing the NHS and Social Care System, including the consultation on Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and the more recent ‘Sick Note’ announcements and; accessibility of public services.

 We also highlighted that disabled people have the right to participate fully in the forthcoming electoral campaign and process and asked for an indication of the specific steps that their political party was taking to ensure these processes were fully accessible to and inclusive for disabled electors.

We asked for their views as to how their party’s parliamentary candidates would be advocating for disabled people in Scotland and specifically in those areas that are identified priorities for disabled people.

We also extended the opportunity for them to meet with DES, in order to help the disabled community better understand their political party’s support for disabled people.

But What Can You Do?

We previously highlighted in the DES newsletter that there are some new rules in place when going to vote at this general election.

As always, all voters must appear on the electoral register to vote and everyone who is a voter needs to be 18 years, or older, on the day of the election. This has not changed.

However, the rules when you actually go to the polling station have changed. The rules now say that before you get issued with your ballot paper, every voter will have to show photographic identification (photo ID.) You might have heard of this rule change being called “voter identification” or “voter ID.”

What Forms of Identification Can You Use?

There are a variety of forms of identification that will be accepted at polling stations. Voters can use:

  • Passports;
  • Full and provisional driving licences;
  • Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) cards;
  • Blue badges;
  • A Scottish National Entitlement Card issued for concessionary travel purposes, including older persons and disabled persons bus pass;
  • An MOD Defence Identity Card (Form 90) and;
  • A biometric immigration document issued in accordance with regulations under section 5 of the UK Borders Act 2007.

The full list is available on the Electoral Commission website: Accepted forms of photo ID: Voter ID | Electoral Commission.  The photo ID you use must be the original and cannot be a photocopy and you only need to show one form of ID.

But I Do Not Have an Acceptable Form of Identification?

People without an existing acceptable form of voter identification can apply online, or by post, for a free Voter Authority Certificate (VAC). The VAC will display the name and a passport style photo of a voter.

You can apply for a VAC here: Apply for photo ID to vote (called a ‘Voter Authority Certificate’) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) or by contacting your local electoral registration office. You can find their details here: www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter/your-election-information

The deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate to vote in the Parliamentary general election on Thursday 4 July is 5pm on Wednesday 26 June 2024.

Forms of Identification That Have Expired.

An approved identification document does not have to be in date to be accepted. Expired identification will still be accepted, as long as it looks like you and the name on the document is the same as the one you used when you registered to vote.

I Am Not Sure If I Am Registered to Vote, or I Have Moved House Recently.

You usually only need to register once to vote as this covers you for all elections. However, if you have moved house recently you should register again so that you are able to vote. If you have changed your name for any reason, you should make sure your name matches that on the electoral register.

For more information on registering to vote: Register to vote | Electoral Commission

The Countdown Has Now Started……

As we said earlier, with the general election date now known (4 July 2024), all the political parties will begin their election activities.

Although there is no immediate rush, you may want to check – if you are over 18 years of age and entitled to vote – that you are indeed registered to vote and that you have appropriate photographic identification so that you have #AccessToDemocracy