A group of people who have learning disabilities talking to their local political candidate

Empowering members to use vote in local elections

March 21, 2017 Campaigning news

ENABLE Scotland has launched its #ENABLEtheVote campaign to empower people who have a learning disability to use their vote in the upcoming local elections.

The learning disability charity is delivering 19 unique hustings events throughout Scotland from Monday 20 March, bringing people who have learning disabilities face-to-face with local politicians to debate the key issues.

The first hustings was in Edinburgh and the others stretch from Inverness to Inveraray, covering 19 local authorities along the way.

The hustings events will give people who have learning disabilities an opportunity to question candidates from the main political parties and independent groups.

The learning disability organisation has also joined forces with the Electoral Commission in a bid to make the voting process more accessible for people who have learning disabilities. With funding from the Electoral Commission ENABLE Scotland has produced fact sheets to support people who have learning disabilities, their families and supporters, through the voting process.

Kayleigh Thorpe, Head of Campaigns and Activism for ENABLE Scotland said: “Traditionally the number of people who have a learning disability who vote is only around 30 per cent.

“A survey has found that 60 per cent of people who have learning disabilities found the process of voting too difficult – yet 70 per cent wanted to vote.

“That is why we’ve launched our #ENABLEthevote campaign and produced resources for people who have learning disabilities and their families, to support people to vote.

“Last year 80 per cent of people who have learning disabilities who took part in #ENABLEtheVote used their vote in the Scottish Parliamentary Elections.

“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, and with the chance to make an informed choice through debate and discussion.

“People who have learning disabilities too often face lifelong exclusion and lack of opportunity to be part of their community. Our accessible hustings events create the space for our members and the people we support to have their voice heard in the pre-election debate.”

Andy O’Neill, Head of the Electoral Commission in Scotland said: “The Scottish Council elections give voters the chance to have their say about who runs vital services like education and social care in our communities.

“It’s important that everyone who wants to vote is supported to do so and we are delighted to work with ENABLE Scotland to make our democracy as accessible as possible.”

#ENABLEtheVote is all about listening to the views of people who have learning disabilities and igniting the pre-election debate on key issues such as; social care, education and housing options.

The hustings events will be taking place over the next few weeks and ENABLE Scotland will also launch its manifesto calling for all politicians to pledge their support in advance of the local council election on 4 May.

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