At the beginning of the Every Vote Counts project in 2007, we sent out a survey to ask people some important questions. We asked if people with a learning disability supported by United Response in England ever voted or got involved in politics. In May 2008, we published the results of the survey.
Few people voting
We found out that 80% of people with learning disabilities who responded to the survey were registered to vote. But only 1 in 6 people had voted in their last local elections. And only 1 in 8 people voted in the 2005 general election.
As well as finding out how many people voted, we also found out some other things. The support workers who took part in the survey told us that they wanted to provide better support for people to be part of the democratic process. We also found that many support staff had come up with creative ways of supporting people. But many of them felt that there was not enough accessible information to explain differences between candidates and policies in a clear way and this made it difficult. We also found that remote voting, like voting by post, is making it easier for some disabled people to vote.
Many of the people told us that the system was still too complicated, making it difficult for them to support people to make an informed choice. People told us that certain things were needed to make it easier for people to get involved in the future. They wanted more accessible information, and also for people involved in politics to have a better understanding of the needs of people with learning disabilities and their right to vote.
In 2010, after the General Election, United Response carried out a second survey of the people it supports to find out how many had voted. We found out that 1 in 3 had voted at the election. We were pleased as this was a lot more than had voted in other elections. But we know that there are still a lot of people with learning disabilities who are not voting.
We want people with learning disabilities to able to use their vote in the same way as everyone else and that is why Every Vote Counts is so important.