Could technology help disabled people vote?

A tactile voting device can be placed over the ballot paper

The correct to vote is an important liberty which underpins democracy, however there are important challenges in accessing elections for a lot of disabled and vision-impaired voters.

In international locations reminiscent of Australia and Estonia, voters with disabilities can solid their ballots from dwelling the place their help mechanisms are already in place.

Nonetheless, there are few such techniques in place in England which permit voters to retain their independence, requiring them to vote by proxy in probably the most excessive circumstances.

Whereas polling stations are required by legislation to offer a tactile gadget for individuals with sight loss to vote, lower than 1% of the visually impaired inhabitants within the UK makes use of braille.

Postal voting is out there for disabled voters, however they don’t assist those that are unable to go away their properties or beds, and don’t supply the visually impaired further entry.

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Fewer than 1% of visually impaired individuals within the UK use braille

The Welsh authorities has proposed pilots exploring the usage of digital voting in native elections and by-elections.

Areeq Chowdhury, the chief govt of the WebRoots Democracy assume tank, has advocated the usage of expertise to drive inclusion when individuals go to the polls.

“Many citizens with motor disabilities, imaginative and prescient impairments, and cognitive disabilities will battle to solid a poll with out assistance from one other.

“Some is probably not as lucky to have a major different, or a carer to assist them achieve this,” he added.

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Regardless of the potential for growing entry to elections, there are fears that digital voting techniques might enable hackers to affect the ballots.

Russian hackers are accused of concentrating on election-related techniques in 21 US states through the 2016 presidential election.

In Germany, cybersecurity researchers warned within the days earlier than their parliamentary elections that safety flaws in counting machines’ software program have been “trivial” to take advantage of and manipulate the consequence.

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Know-how might assist voters solid impartial and secret ballots

Marie Chadwick, Coverage Officer on the Royal Nationwide Institute of Blind Individuals, informed Sky Information: “It is unacceptable that as we speak many blind and partially sighted individuals are nonetheless unable to vote independently and in secret.

“Whereas having a big print reference copy of the poll paper does assist some, the present system isn’t correctly enabling voters who can’t learn the official poll paper to solid their vote with confidence.

“Know-how reminiscent of digital voting might assist eradicate the obstacles that the paper-based voting system creates for some individuals with sight loss, permitting everybody to solid their vote independently and in secret.”

Mr Chowdhury stated: “On-line voting can be extra handy for almost all of the inhabitants, notably residents overseas and people serving within the Armed Forces.”

A examine carried out by the assume tank discovered that 30% of voters don’t interact with elections because of the inconvenience of the present voting system.

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Five councils will trial the voter ID plans at next week's local elections
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The inconvenience of voting can drive down turnout, analysis suggests

As many individuals headed to the polls for the native elections, some with visible, bodily or cognitive impairments could not have been in a position to solid an impartial, secret poll – as required by the Human Rights Act 1998.

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If you happen to or somebody you understand has encountered difficulties in casting their vote, please electronic mail our expertise reporter at aj.martin@sky.uk with the phrase “Disabled Voter Entry” within the topic.

Alternatively, you’ll be able to click on on the handle above in case your net browser helps mechanically opening electronic mail purchasers.

:: Sky Information will convey you reside protection of the native election outcomes on net, cellular and TV on Thursday evening and all through Friday. A reside weblog shall be operating all through the evening whereas a particular programme will present evaluation of the outcomes as they arrive in hour-by-hour.

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