This is a guest blog post by Electoral Commission Wales.
Get ready to vote
There’s just one week to go until people in Wales head to the polls to decide who will represent them in the Senedd and as Police and Crime Commissioner.
The Senedd has powers to make laws for Wales on a range of areas including health, the economy, education, housing, and transport. A Police and Crime Commissioner oversees your local police force and ensures they are prioritising what matters to you.
The Electoral Commission works to promote public confidence in the democratic process and ensure its integrity. However, we know that some disabled voters still face obstacles to voting, and might have added concerns about taking part in elections during a pandemic.
If you’ve chosen to vote in person you will be doing so safely at Covid-secure polling stations. You can expect many of the measures we’ve all become used to over recent months in shops and other indoor spaces, such as hand sanitisers, floor markings and face coverings (unless you are exempt).
If you become unwell with Covid-19 shortly before polling day, or on the day itself, you don’t need to miss out on your vote. You will be able to apply for an emergency proxy vote through your local council.
As always, there is additional support available for disabled voters at the polling station:
- Tactile voting devices and large print sample versions of the ballot paper, to help blind or partially sighted voters mark their ballot paper. You can also take your phone into the polling booth and use the magnifier, torch or text- to-speech apps, to help you vote.
- You can ask polling station staff for help to cast your vote, or to navigate some of the public health measures that will be in place, such as the one-way system or maintaining your distance from other voters. You can also bring someone with you who is over 16 for the Senedd election/ over 18 for the PCC election and who is eligible to vote in the election, to help you.
- Wheelchair accessible polling stations and booths. Each polling station should have an entry/exit ramp or a separate entrance, so that everyone can access it. Once inside, every polling station will have a wheelchair accessible polling booth.
The Commission provides guidance to polling station staff to ensure they are aware of the measures that should be in place, and that anyone registered cannot be refused a ballot. We sought views from a number of disability organisations on this guidance, including Disability Wales, and these are reflected in it.
In Wales, there are Senedd and Police and Crime Commissioner elections happening on 6 May so you may have up to three different ballot papers. There will be instructions on the ballot papers and on posters inside the polling station showing how to complete them, so be sure to read these carefully before casting your vote, or ask someone to read them on your behalf.
For more information about voting, take a look at our May 2021 voter information booklet available in a range of formats including easy-read, BSL and audio.
Ella Downing, Communications Officer for the Electoral Commission Wales