Monaghan County Council has developed an easy-to-read guide to the voting process, with a focus on the needs of disabled voters.
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES VOTE LESS
Through Monaghan County Council's ongoing work in the promotion of equality and improving accessibility for people with a disability, it was identified that low numbers of people with disabilities vote or are registered to vote. Public consultation highlighted a significant lack of awareness about voting and political participation within this community. Prior to this publication, all information relating to voting in Monaghan was inaccessible, using complicated language and terminology. Information about support available to voters with a disability and information on the accessibility of polling stations was not available.
EASY-TO-READ GUIDE FOR IRELAND
Your Vote Your Voice is an easy-to-read guide to voting in Ireland. The guide is written in plain English and uses a clear layout. It explains the voting process in Ireland and how any person over 18 can exercise their right to vote. Your Vote Your Voice was identified as a priority by Monaghan County Council in 2019, following the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with a Disability in 2018. With local and European elections taking place in 2019, it was time to focus on the rights of people with a disability, particularly their right to vote. The guide includes information on: government structures; types of elections and votes that take place; the Constitution; who can vote and why they should; registering to vote; polling cards and polling day; accessibility of polling stations; the voting process and filling out a ballot paper; getting help to fill out ballot papers; support for voters with visual impairments; the ballot box and the secret ballot; and, rules inside the polling station.
SHARING THE INITIATIVE AS A NATIONAL TEMPLATE
This initiative was managed by the Social Inclusion Officer in Monaghan County Council with a team of staff from the Corporate Services Department who manage the register of electors; Monaghan Public Participation Network, a network of over 400 community and voluntary groups; and, Monaghan Disability Network working closely with the Department of Housing and Local Government to ensure all information was up-to-date and correct. The project team also linked with the Irish Human Rights Commission UN Disability Advisory Committee who had identified difficulties in relation to accessing the right to vote for people with a disability. This initiative was designed to be easily reproducible for any future elections. The template has been shared with all other Irish local authorities and has been reproduced by a number of them.