If have a disability or impairment it can be difficult to vote so I though I’d share some information from the Office of Disability Issues Newsletter on how this can be made easier for those of us with disabilities or impairments. As someone with low vision, the idea of Telephone Dictation voting appeals to me as it means I can be completely independent and do not need someone to read the voting papers for me.
If you are aged 18 years or over, are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident and have lived in New Zealand continuously for some time in your life, you have the right to vote in the upcoming General Election on Saturday 23 September, but you have to be enrolled first, by Friday 22 September.
It is mandated in the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability that “countries ensure equal participation in political and public life, including the right to vote, to stand for elections and to hold office”.
The disability sector has worked with the Electoral Commission in past years to make it easier for people to enrol and vote in general elections, by providing:
- information in accessible formats including Braille, large-print, audio format and screenreader files
- information and consultation opportunities in New Zealand Sign Language – see NZSL video guide
- DVD resource kits and facilitation guides for voters with an intellectual disability
- Plain English resources including posters and booklets
- voting guides in multiple languages.
How to enrol
The Electoral Commission website has a section “Enrol and vote with a disability“.
If you need more information you can contact the Register of Electors in your area.
If you’re unable to fill out an enrolment form, a support person can help you, or fill in the form on your behalf, as long as you sign it.
There are further options for people who are unable to sign the form or are mentally unable to complete the form – see the Electoral Commission website.
How to vote
- Support people are allowed to help people vote at the voting place, including reading out and marking the voting papers according to your instructions.
- If you’re unable to get to a voting place, between 9am and 7pm on Saturday 23 September, there are other options:
- vote in person at an advance voting place (from Monday 11 September) . Information about advance voting places , including locations and opening hours, or you can call 0800 36 76 56
- apply in advance for to get voting papers sent to you by post. Contact your local Returning Officer to ask for postal voting papers
- apply in advance for a “takeaway vote” and to have someone come and collect the voting papers for you.
- If you’re blind, partially blind or have another physical disability that prevents you from marking your ballot paper without assistance you can vote by Telephone Dictation Voting.
- o You need to register to use this service by Thursday 21 September, 7pm by calling 0800 028 028. Your last chance to vote using Telephone Dictation is on Election Day, Saturday 23 September from 9am to 7pm.
- If you’re in a rest home or hospital, the Electoral Commission will send teams to deliver voting services.
This is just a summary. For full information, including where and when you can vote and who you can vote for, go to www.elections.org.nz or call 0800 36 76 56.