Voting is the most important way an individual can make their voice heard on the issues that affect every aspect of their daily life. It is a central and vital part of how democracy works in the UK at every level of elected government, from MPs at Westminster and MEPs in the European Parliament, to Assembly Members in the Welsh Government and Councillors in Caerphilly county borough.
In many countries around the world, including the UK, people have fought for the right to be allowed to vote. In the UK, women were first allowed to vote on equal terms with men under the Representation of the People Act, on February 6, 1918. But even then, this was only to certain women over 30 and it was not until 1928 that the voting age for women was lowered to 21 in line with men as part of the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928. The UK lowered the age for men and women to 18 in the Representation of the People Act 1969 and there is growing support for lowering it further to 16 years of age.
But having the right to vote is not always enough. A strong and fair democracy also relies on people using their votes, but to do this it also has to ensure that as many people as possible can access the system and use the vote that they are entitled to have.
Many people are eligible to vote but may not know where and how to register and vote, or may be discouraged from voting because they have physical or mental issues that prevent them from exercising their voting rights. Other people may need some form of assistance, and some people may not vote because they cannot get to, or gain entry into, sites where elections are held. All these concerns and others, create barriers that keep people from exercising their right to vote.
This guidance document has been produced to provide additional information and advice on where Equalities and Welsh Language matters must be considered by staff members in Electoral Services and also those working as polling station inspectors, or in polling stations and election counts during the different election periods.
It also provides useful information to those members of the public who may require additional support in order to be able to vote.
Accessible Voting Guide (PDF 587kb)