Actions to improve the accessibility of Elections

The Convener of the EMB has made some Recommendations for action by RO and ERO teams to improve the accessibility of elections ahead of the UK Parliamentary General Election in 2024.


The Elections Act 2022 made changes to the help available to people voting in a polling station.  These changes will apply to UK Parliamentary General Elections and by-elections.  Disabled voters can choose anyone who is over 18 to accompany them in the polling station to help them vote, including carers who may not themselves be eligible to vote at the election.  There are also changes to the assistance available at polling stations.  Returning Officers need to take all reasonable steps to provide support for disabled voters at polling stations. This should improve the range and quality of support available and speed up the process of providing additional support where needed in polling stations.

The EMB’s Accessibility Subgroup has been considering a range of measures to suggest improvements to the delivery of elections.  One of the workstreams of that group has been to review simple steps that could be taken immediately to improve accessibility.   The EMB considered a discussion paper from that sub-group at its meeting in December 2023 and agreed that the paper should be circulated with a clear recommendation made to ROs and EROs that they consider and, where appropriate, adopt the measures identified.  This was confirmed at today’s meeting of the EMB (16 February 2024).  The proposed actions are set out below.  ROs and EROs should also review the discussion paper attached which includes some background and links to other relevant resources.   The Convener of the EMB has no power to direct ROs and EROs in a UK Election, but recommendations have been made in the past to promote consistency and support best practice.


The EMB Accessibility Sub-group has identified a set of simple measures that can be implemented by ROs and EROs and their teams further to improve the accessibility of elections, in advance of a UK Parliamentary General Election (UKPGE) held before January 2025.

Some of the measures apply in the polling place, where attention on accessibility has traditionally been centred.  However, other measures address the whole voter journey from registration to vote and include other stakeholders with whom you will have contact and interaction before, during and after the poll. This goes beyond what the legislation requires but the ‘whole voter journey’ is important to consider fully to support accessibility.

Many of these measures are low cost or would involve minor modifications to existing practice or provision.  Administrators may find that they have already implemented or considered the actions proposed below:

  1. Ensure at any initial point of communication to voters, or when voters access information about registering to vote, that a range of routes and formats are provided, with support if required, to allow an individual to register to vote.
  2. Consider how, when and where you communicate messages about registering to vote, the options for an absent vote and how to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate so that groups with specific access needs are reached.
  3. Ensure that all general information and communications provided to voters are accessible and available in a range of formats appropriate for those with accessibility needs.
  4. Ensure you promote and support a range of contact routes, to allow the provision of information and support in ways that meet different requirements.
  5. Review your poll card / poll letter templates for options to improve accessibility through document design and provide easy to use links to access further information and support in a range of formats.
  6. Ensure in advance of the poll that you communicate and provide accessible information about getting to the polling station, what to expect and the support / aids that will be available to voters to vote independently and in secret.
  7. Review local demographic information and records of previous issues at polling places to understand where specific information and support may be needed for groups of voters who have accessibility requirements; plan and target provision to address particular local or community needs.
  8. Ensure that all staff are trained and familiar with the support measures available and can advise or signpost the voter or any supporters or carers to access additional information or information in a different format, appropriate to specific needs.

All RO and ERO teams are also asked to review the Issues Paper attached that was considered by the EMB on 13 December 2023 and revised for the 16 February 2024 meeting.  It expands on each of these recommendations and provides links to a variety of background resources and guidance.  The paper gives some examples around the recommendations / measures to be adopted by ROs, but they are by way of “case studies”.  It does not exclude novel approaches or your own specific local arrangements.  ROs are to implement what is appropriate in their local circumstances.


Published: 19th February 2024