Did you know that some Kiwis are denied the right to equal participation in our democracy, and the right to cast a free and fair vote? Did you know that this is despite it being our right according to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities?
Yep. This is a thing that is happening in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Voting information packs were not provided in accessible formats, for the previous local election in my area. I had to use my precious support hours to have the voting information booklet read to me.
Some accessible information may possibly be available for the upcoming local elections, but the voting forms still won't be. I cannot cast an anonymous vote in my local elections! I had to tell my voting choices to my support worker openly, and then trust that she would respect my privacy.
I didn't even try going to the local 'meet the candidate events'. Imagine if I wanted to run for election?!
In the national elections I can vote via anonymous telephone vote. Not so in the local elections. In the national elections, staff are available to help voters onsite. In the local elections I am posted a sheet of paper I can't read.
How is it okay to ignore the voting rights of disabled Kiwis? How is it possible that the Government can just ignore the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, that they have signed up to?
The new accessibility legislation must enshrine access to our democratic rights, in all elections, both as voters and - if wished - as candidates.
The new access laws must also make a true commitment to meet all our Government's obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
This is a story about the barriers many face. We're sharing it because we want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.