May 18 2005
Sixty-six per cent of polling stations surveyed failed a basic access test for disabled people, according to Scope’s Polls Apart campaign, which tested the accessibility of polling stations and postal voting in the General Election earlier this month.
More than 1,300 people across the UK took part in the campaign and reported only small improvements on results from the 2001 General Election when 69 per cent of stations were inaccessible. Polling stations were surveyed on sensory as well as physical accessibility. This year, 62 per cent of ramps were found to be appropriately designed, 60 per cent of stations had a low-level polling booth and 64 per cent had a large print ballot paper on display. Tony Manwaring, Scope chief executive, says: “These results demonstrate that despite the Disability Discrimination Act coming into force, the number of accessible community buildings has not significantly increased. A number of disabled people told us that they risked serious injury when voting due to inappropriate ramps and other temporary measures. “Encouragingly, the overall level of service provided to disabled voters seems to have improved, which suggests that many Returning Officers and Electoral Administrators have worked hard to meet disabled voters’ needs. It’s unfortunate that a lot of this good work is undermined by physical access barriers.”
Visit www.pollsapart.org.uk from 6 June for full results from Polls Apart 2005, which is part of Scope’s Time to Get Equal campaign.