BLIND people could soon be casting their votes in secret in future elections.
Currently, blind voters need a polling staff member or sighted companion to read out the candidates so they can cast their vote with a Tactile Voting Device – or TVD – a plastic sheet that attaches to the form and shows where marks should be made.
This means they are unable to vote independently or in private – a fact which led to the TVD being declared unlawful in 2019 in a legal case brought by campaigner Rachael Andrews.
But a new audio device could prove a game changer after being trialled at last month’s elections.
Mike Wordingham, at the Royal National Institute of Blind People, said: “Our research shows just one in every 10 blind voters were able to vote independently and in private in the General Election.
“That means thousands of people are still not able to exercise our fundamental human right to vote with any degree of secrecy, which undermines the entire voting process.
RNIB, the Cabinet Office and Broadland and South Norfolk councils arranged the trial of the device which allows blind and partially sighted people to hear for themselves who is on the ballot paper and vote without assistance.
“We will be monitoring feedback very closely, but we are cautiously optimistic,” said Mr Wordingham. “Everyone should have the right to cast their vote in secret.”