OPEN CHOICE FOR A DEMOCRATIC VOICE

One of, if not the most important things in life is having the ability to make choices and to choose how you carry out that decision to suit your own needs. Very liberal yes, but fair enough I would suggest.

Over the last couple of blog entries, I’ve been looking at the whole subject of voting and have been building up to how we can or in some instances cannot vote. We have the basic choice to vote in elections, but as previously discussed, there are a number of issues that may turn us away from doing this.

Although, a lot is placed publically on people registering to vote, the process of actually voting itself is highly individual, personal and private. Who we vote for is our choice and shouldn’t be the concern of others. However, despite attempts to make it more accessible, the voting process is still fraught with inconsistency when it comes to exercising it privately. Large print voting form plus Braille templates have been produced to help us to access ballot papers, but many have experienced difficulties in even accessing these. For one, not every polling station has had these and people have therefore missed out on the privacy of voting themselves. Secondly, where there have been templates (guides that fit over the voting paper), they haven’t always quite met the boxes underneath and therefore assistance has been needed to complete the process; taking away any desired privacy. I would suggest that if forms were not accessible or right for the general public then there would be a huge outcry and several investigations into why that has happened.

Thirdly, help is at hand at voting stations for one of the officials to help individuals who cannot access the forms to put the mark where the voter chooses it to be. This is certainly a way or recording your vote and again, there’s nothing wrong with choice. However, it isn’t a private choice and what really should be kept to theindividual, is really shared by more than one. True, officials have to sign forms and agree to strict guidelines of privacy; it still doesn’t take away the fact that voting is not the domain of the individual in accessing this process.

A fourth route is postal voting, where forms are completed at home with the assistance of a witness, but again it’s not a private solution and although it can help with not having the difficulty of finding a polling station, it still means that your vote is known by others.

Taking into account the above options, It is baffling that in this modern age, where technology is so sophisticated, it should be possible to complete voting electronically and accessibly. Terms like equality of opportunity and choice really do seem to be far to disposable to those shaping and making choices on our behalf. If politicians and other decision makers keep pushing and enticing us all out to vote, then they should respect the fact that the process should be made accessible to all. When I say accessible, I mean not as a gesture and a half-baked interpretation of the word. Accessibility should mean freedom of choice, of privacy and of completing a process that is at the core of democracy and respect.

I started this series by talking about the importance of voting and recognising our rights that others around the world can only dream of attaining. However, through my reflections, I have highlighted some of the problems that we face in registering to vote, accessing information on those who we are or are not voting for and finally on how we carry out our democratic rights. I hope these reflections have been of interest and that the discussion has helped to highlight the importance of voting.

There is a lot of information out there in the public domain in terms of accessing the voting process. Currently, on the VI talk audio boom channel, there is an article from info sound on how we as visually impaired voters can register. Additionally, the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People), continue to campaign for accessible and private voting.

There are other resources, which can be found across the internet. #Apologies for missing naming them but am always happy to give recognition to organisations and resources in future blogs if requested and deemed relevant.

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