News Release from City of York Council Labour Group

Immediate Release: 20th March, 2024

My Vote, My Voice

A campaign to encourage greater voter participation in learning-disabled and autistic adults looks set to gain the support of York city councillors this week.

The national campaign, led by the charities United Response, Ambitious about Autism, Mencap and Dimensions hopes to ensure these groups are supported to vote in much greater numbers in future elections, including an anticipated General Election in the coming months.

Labour councillor Anna Baxter will seek councillors’ support for a motion that highlights a range of actions that she says will lead to more people being able to vote. She says:

 “This is a really valuable campaign that addresses an important weakness in the current system for voting in elections.  We believe everyone has a right to vote and disability and being neurodiverse should be no barrier to doing so.

 “The fact 40% of the public don’t know learning-disabled and autistic people have an equal right to vote indicates there is a need to improve public understanding of each individual’s right to vote.  It also highlights the need for the planning of elections to take into account individual needs, in the same way we expect adjustments to be made to facilitate voting for those who are physically disabled.

 “Already council officers are doing what they can with those vulnerable adults they work with to support them to vote, which is an important step forwards”.

The topic of inclusion of learning-disabled voters has attracted controversy in recent weeks after the Electoral Commission excluded learning-disabled actors from a promotional film, citing cost reasons.

Cllr Baxter says this approach must change so learning-disabled people see and hear people like them highlighting how to get registered and how to vote.

The motion calls for ways to improve access to voting throughout the process, from voter registration right through to accessing a polling station to mark a ballot paper and vote.

Councillors are expected to endorse the motion at their meeting this Thursday evening.


Cllr Anna Baxter

Tel: 07740 318659


Notes to Editors:

 Further info: About – My Vote My Voice

My Vote, My Voice Motion

“Council welcomes the My Voice, My Vote campaign promoting the right to vote and the removal of barriers to voting for the 1.5m learning disabled and 700,000 autistic adults living in the UK.

It notes:

  • 40% of the population don’t know these groups have an equal right to vote;
  • 80% of people feel that polling stations are inaccessible for disabled people as a whole;
  • only 12% of disabled voters were aware of their legal entitlements during the 2023 local elections, including available polling station support, in the wake of new rules around voter identification;
  • the excellent work of council officers in ensuring relevant council teams and contracted services working with vulnerable adults explain how they can register to vote.

Council believes everyone should have a right to vote and disability and difference should be no barrier to voter participation.

Further, it believes democracy is best exercised when all groups are represented and that low turnout for one demographic indicates disenfranchisement.

Council resolves to request the Returning Officer:

·        considers the city’s polling stations for any accessibility improvements;

·        considers how greater awareness of voting rights through social media activity can be advanced, particularly for hard-to-reach groups;

·        provides as much detail as possible on the different roles for which individuals stand for election, to encourage greater voter participation, subject to relevant legislation.

And requests the Chief Operating Officer write to the relevant Minister within the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on:

·        ways to make registering to vote easier, while maintaining the integrity of the electoral process, in order to increase voter participation.”

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