The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) released a report on the 20th March on the state of play in Europe of the right of persons with disabilities to vote in the European Parliament elections.
The report "Real rights of persons with disabilities to vote in EP elections" shows that millions of persons with disabilities will not be able or allowed to cast their vote in May, and many others will have difficulties to do so. This is despite their being many binding legal documents protecting the rights of persons with disabilities in the EU.
The report was authored by Polish member of the EESC Krzysztof Pater, he said that the report presented an ugly face of Europe and a reality which was far away from expectations, basic international legal acts and political declarations.
According to the report, millions of voters will be prevented by technical barriers at polling stations which do not take into account the needs resulting from their various types of disability. It is also estimated that approximately 800 000 EU citizens with mental health issues or with an intellectual disability will be deprived of their right to vote because of national rules that are in force in 16 Member States.Blind voters have no way of voting independently in as many as 18 Member States. In eight Member States, there are no alternative forms of voting, such as postal voting, electronic voting or voting by mobile ballot box. This means that anyone physically unable to come to the polling station will not be able to cast their ballots. In 12 countries, national rules do not allow voters to change polling stations to a more suitable one if the latter is not assigned to them based on their place of residence.
Although the report paints a negative picture it also lists 200 examples of good practices and positive solutions that can be found in each Member State.
To read the full report available in all EU languages click here