A groups of ACE members who have learning disabilities holding a big cross promoting election voting

We #TalkDemocracy

July 3, 2018 ENABLE Scotland Blog Kayleigh Thorpe, Head of Campaigns, Policy and Activism

This week is National Democracy Week. The UK-wide #TalkDemocracy campaign coincides with the 90th anniversary of women securing equal voting rights, and aims to inspire democratic participation across our communities.

Every voice matters

…is the key message in #TalkDemocracy.   And at ENABLE Scotland we think  it is important to emphasise the right to democratic participation of people who have learning disabilities.

Did you know that on average, only 30 percent of people who have a learning disability vote in elections.  In contrast, 68 percent of the wider population voted in the 2017 UK General Election.

Even more concerning for us is that 70 percent of people who have a learning disability want to vote, but 60 percent find the process too difficult.

We have to overcome those barriers to ensure every voice is heard, and so we are commited to continuing with our work to ENABLE the vote

#ENABLEtheVote

Our long-standing campaign – #ENABLEtheVote – set out to make the voting process and politicians much more accessible to people who have a learning disability.

#ENABLEtheVote works across the political spectrum, with the support of organisations such as the Electoral Commission, empowering people who have a learning disability to:

  • have their say
  • influence the debate on the issues that matter to them
  • make informed choices about who to vote for
  • increase the number of people who have a learning disability who vote.

Having an impact

We are proud of the outcomes of this campaign to date.  More than 80 percent of people who engaged with #ENABLEtheVote used their vote in the Scottish Parliamentary Election in 2016, and 91 percent used their vote in the Local Council Elections in 2017.

This is a lot more than the 30% of people who have a learning disability who usually exercise their vote.

These are more than marginal gains that we look forward to improving further as we look towards the next election – whenever that may be!

Speaking of other elections…

ENABLE Scotland members are active in their own communities across the country, and in the ENABLE Scotland national community, as evidenced by the participation rates in  our own ENABLE Elections which took place recently for our Scottish Council.

Scottish Council is the elected voice of ENABLE Scotland’s members. Elected members of Scottish Council help to lead ENABLE Scotland and work on the big issues for people who have learning disabilities and their families.

60 members of ENABLE Scotland stood in the elections to Scottish Council to take up 30 places. We are looking forward to meeting all of our new members when they come together for the 210th meeting of Scottish Council in September 2018.

Why it matters:

John Clarke, a newly elected member of Scottish council, explains why it matters: “Being part of ENABLE Scotland gives me the chance to speak out about issues. I went to Westminster and spoke in front of MPs. They listened and they took me seriously. They even asked if they could use my speech as evidence in a debate the next day.”

As a member-led organisation, our members’ voices will continue to shape and lead our campaign priorities. In ENABLE Scotland we #TalkDemocracy every day, from our local branches and ACE Groups across Scotland,  to the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Learning Disability, as we continue work together towards an equal society for every person who has a learning disability.

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