The European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency is calling for barriers to the participation of people with disabilities in elections to be removed.
The Agency is currently engaged in developing indicators on the political participation of people with disabilities. This work is measuring the extent to which people with disabilities participate in political life, particularly through voting and standing for election, across the 28 EU Member States. The preliminary findings of this research indicate that Member States should take steps now to ensure people with disabilities can exercise their right to vote and take part in the European Parliament elections in May 2014, in line with their rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
A report produced by the Agency in 2010 identified the barriers that many people in Europe face in exercising their voting rights which must be addressed, for example:
- Removing legal barriers to voting for people with disabilities, in particular those who live in long-term institutions or who have psychosocial or intellectual disabilities;
- Election authorities and political parties should make instructions for voting and campaign materials understandable for people with different types of disabilities (including formats such as large print, braille, easy-to-read and audio versions) and make polling stations accessible.
- Election authorities should also ensure training is provided to polling officials to meet the needs of people with different types of disabilities.