Laura Sharman 07 May 2019

Court rules voting provision for blind people is 'unlawful'

The way in which blind or partially sighted people are able to vote has been declared ‘unlawful’ in a successful legal challenge.

A judicial review has found that the current use of Tactile Voting Devices (TVDs) do not allow blind and partially sighted people to vote without any need for assistance.

The case was brought by Rachael Andrews, who is blind, who argued TVDs do not allow someone to vote independently as they need someone to read out the names of the candidates and the order in which they appear on the ballot paper.

There have also been reports of polling stations not having the TVDs or the TVDs being the wrong size for the ballot paper.

Sean Humber, Rachael’s solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, said: ‘The Government’s far-fetched attempt to reduce the act of voting to simply marking a ballot paper, while conveniently ignoring the need for voters to also know who the candidates are and where they appear on the ballot paper, is an insult to blind and partially sighted voters, who should be able to exercise their voting rights in the same as everyone else - secretly and independently.

’The fact that the technology exists and is used in other countries to allow blind people to vote independently, makes the Government’s inflexibility all the more unacceptable.’

Previous research by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) found that only one in four blind and partially sighted voters felt the current system let them vote independently and in secret. Richard Holmes, public affairs manager at RNIB, said: ‘For years, RNIB has consistently raised concerns about the Tactile Voting Device not being fit for purpose. We have supported Rachael with this case, providing a witness statement and sharing our detailed research into access to elections.’

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