A visually impaired man has found himself the victim of discrimination when he asked his local authority if he could vote at the General Election on June 8th in the same way that everyone else can.
When Daniel Williams, 25, enquired at Cardiff City Council, if he could have a large print ballot paper, he was informed that this was not possible due to ‘legislative reasons’. No alternative was suggested.
Mr Williams was then told by the Electoral Commission that there would be ‘an example’ in a large print format at the polling station ‘for reference only’. He would still have to place his cross on an original size ballot paper.
“I would find it impossible to judge from the ‘larger’ document where I need to cast my vote on the ‘smaller’ document,” explained Mr Williams, who is the Director of Visualise Training and Consultancy in Cardiff. “How would I know that I had voted for the correct candidate?”
An internal email from the Electoral Commission revealed: ‘If he were to be given a large print ballot paper, it would compromise the secrecy of the vote. Every ballot paper has to look the same.’
“You wouldn’t give someone a ‘large print menu’ and then give them a ‘small print menu’ to choose their food,” said Mr Williams. “This has made me feel worthless, and that my vote doesn’t count. I feel excluded as a normal member of society.”
The Equality Act 2010 is there to support people with disabilities and enforce service providers to make reasonable adjustments. However, the Government are able to do whatever they please, even if this prevents people who are blind or partially sighted being able to vote.
“I couldn’t care less if the person who counts the votes knows I am visually impaired,” added Mr Williams. “That is part of my identity. I just want to vote the same as everyone else.”