As we all know, there are a slew of elections this May: Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, all Local Authorities in Scotland and some in England. As the internet continues to take over the world, there’s more and more of an e-democracy angle with each election. Here’s one or two sites that I’ve come across.

I think Scotland’s particularly interesting because they will be using STV in local elections for the first time. I’m definitely a big fan of alternative voting systems, but the iniquities of first-past-the-post are a long rant which we should save for another blog post. Some people have been complaining that STV is difficult to understand, but really, how difficult can it be to put things in order of preference? As easy as 1-2-3, you’d think…

However, the Electoral Reform Society have launched Democrazy to explain to young people in Scotland how the system works. The explanation is the flash intro thing – once you get to the site it’s all about a competition – £3,000 for the best political song, which I reckon is pretty good going. Nice idea, but I don’t know if it’ll seem a bit naff to the target audience.

You’ll find that when people are talking about e-democracy the first thing they mention is nearly always young people, it’s all ‘engaging the disaffected digital generation’ type stuff. What people often forget is it’s practical usefulness for many disabled people. We were doing an independent evaluation for the DCLG last year of e-consultation packages and one of the users I spoke to said that e-consultation hadn’t increased the number of young people taking part (her theory was that subject matter was key here) but it had massively boosted the number of disabled people taking part – a group who’d been distinctly under-represented previously. So it’s nice to see Capability Scotland’s Vote 2007 website, providing information and encouraging disabled people to vote. Although I’m surprised they didn’t explain the possibility of postal voting more prominently (deadline to apply 18th April, for all our postal voting viewers!) and I’m amazed that they got that URL. Wasn’t there some kind of e-democracy feeding frenzy for it?

Scottish election info in general is available at Holyrood 2007, providing information about candidates, the elections and events; to people who like big words, but don’t mind half the buttons not working, from the looks of things. I know far less about the Welsh Assembly elections, but this site would seem to provide good all-round coverage. And also, I’m delighted to realise that Blaenau Gwent, one of our most active areas in last year’s I’m a Councillor event, is a key battleground in the upcoming elections. Blaenau Gwent’s young people were sparky, funny, determined to have their say and felt very marginalised. It’ll be nice if all of a sudden national politicians have to court them.


Abigail Bremner · 13th April 2007 at 9:59 am

Thanks for the mention of the Vote2007 site. I’d encourage anyone dealing with enquiries from disabled voters who are nervous about voting in person – maybe because they’re doing it for the first time, or because they’ve had a bad experience in the past – to direct them to the site. New laws in 2000 mean that things have really improved, and there are various adaptations that they can expect to be in place at their local polling station to make the process easier.
Point about postal voting taken – and we’ll see what we can do to make it more obvious. Although it’s probably also worth pointing out that most disabled people want to vote in person so – like everybody else – they can listen to the directions of political debate right up to the day before making a decision.

Sophia Collins · 13th April 2007 at 10:58 am

Fair point about voting in person and making your mind up on the day. How relevant to disabled people in other parts of the UK is this? Is there an equivalent for Wales or England?

Abigail bremner · 13th April 2007 at 12:35 pm

The information should be pretty much the same in England and Wales – in terms of the voting process and support available (clearly you’re not voting for MSPs, and shouldn’t put numbers on your council ballot either!). So, if you ignore all the election-specific information, the virtual polling station experience should apply UK-wide. However, it’s probably a bit difficult for people to ignore the election stuff, so it might end up just being confusing.

Sophia Collins · 13th April 2007 at 1:47 pm

Well, I’ve had a quick look around and there doesn’t seem to be anything similar for Wales and England. The Disability Rights Commission, Mencap, Directgov and the Electoral Commission don’t seem to have anything like it. The RNIB has a guide to accessible voting (, but it was clearly put together in advance of the 2005 general election.
So well done to Capability Scotland for putting this together. You are leading the UK pack!

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