Local Council Elections 2022 – it’s time to #ENABLETheVote again!
In three weeks’ time, Scotland’s electorate will go to the polls once more to vote for their local council representatives.
At a time when we are collectively recovering from the effects of the pandemic over the last two years, and as we grapple with the realities facing communities around cost of living increases, these elections are arguably more important than ever.
None more so than for people who have a learning disability and their families. Local authorities play a key role in many of the determinants of a good life for people who have a learning disability – early years support, education, social care, social work, housing, community based support, day services, support for family carers, leisure facilities, the local economy and partnership with HSCP to inform local health services.
Every person who has a learning disability has the right to vote. But not everyone finds it easy to access their right to vote. On average, only 30 percent of people who have a learning disability vote in elections. And, while 70 percent of people who have a learning disability want to vote, 60 percent find the process too difficult. In contrast, 63.5 percent of the wider population voted in the 2021 Scottish Parliament Election.
This month, to support more people to access their democratic right to vote, we have once again launched our award winning #ENABLEtheVote campaign.
#ENABLEtheVote is our campaign to make the voting process and politicians much more accessible to people who have a learning disability.
#ENABLEtheVote works across the political spectrum, 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.
We do this by:
- writing accessible literature about the election process
- Organising accessible hustings during election times for people who have a learning disability and family carers.
- campaigning for all political parties to create easy-read manifestos
- asking local counsellors to make it possible for people who have a learning disability to unlock their #OwnFrontDoor.
And the result?
More than 80 percent of people who engaged with #ENABLEtheVote used their vote in the Scottish Parliamentary Election in 2021, and 91 percent used their vote in the Local Council Elections in 2017. These are voters who must not be ignored.
ENABLE Scotland has a network of over 12,000 members and supporters across Scotland who are active across 62 community groups. There is a member of ENABLE Scotland in every Local Authority area in the country who will be using their vote in the 2022 Local Government Elections.
Members of ENABLE Scotland recently campaigned for their right to #MyOwnFrontDoor – to end the human rights scandal of people who have learning disabilities being stuck in hospital or forced to move away from the community they choose because of a lack of available support. The Scottish Government and COSLA have committed to ending this practice by March 2024. Our members feel that it is so important that our new elected Councillors across the country commit to upholding this timeline. They are also calling for better access to self-directed social care, better community based support, and more training for education staff to end restraint and seclusion of children who have learning disabilities in local schools.
Our members have worked together to produce a manifesto for the local government elections, and are writing to their local candidates to ask them to commit to supporting it.
You can take action to support them here:
There are a number of hustings events happening across the country too over the course of the next couple of weeks – all are welcome!
It is so important that our local elected representatives start as they mean to go on, and engage with voters who have a learning disability and their families from the word go. We are proud to be supporting our members to #ENABLETheVote once again, and look forward to strong commitments from candidates across the country to join us in our mission for an equal society for every person who has a learning disability.