In more and more EU member states, people under guardianship (which concerns people with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities) are granted the right to vote in their countries. The latest examples include Denmark, France, Germany and Spain. But in some European countries, the right to vote is still denied to people under guardianship. We strongly believe this needs to change! Find here some reasons why:
People with intellectual disabilities can make their own choices
We make choices all the time – some of them are good, some of them are bad. People who don’t have disabilities do not need to justify their choices. No one asks them whether they were made on a rational or emotional basis. We should therefore not demand higher standards from people with intellectual disabilities make their own choices, provided they get the right support:
We can support people with intellectual disabilities in making decisions
People with intellectual disabilities have the right to be accommodated so they are in a position to make independent decisions. This includes providing information (for example party programmes, election manifestos …) in easy-to-read language, communicating in an understandable manner or providing assistance during voting.
► Find out more on how to make elections accessible
Everyone’s voting decision is influenced
Election campaigns are about politicians and parties trying to convince citizens to vote for them. Influencing is one of the main tools of political persuasion, and it is certainly not restricted to people with intellectual disabilities. Misleading or false information can be a serious problem for everyone, but eliminating the electoral rights of some citizens is not the solution.
People with intellectual disabilities are as interested in politics as other people
People with intellectual disabilities do not form a homogeneous group. Some of them do not follow politics, others run for office. Independently of this, the right to vote is a fundamental right that every adult has, regardless of interest.
Denying the right to vote to people with disabilities is discrimination
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities clearly states in its Article 29 on Political Participation that people with disabilities should be able to “fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others, […] including the right and opportunity for persons with disabilities to vote and be elected”. All EU member states and the EU itself have ratified the convention. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human rights and other bodies have confirmed the right too. Denying people with intellectual disabilities their right to vote is nothing but discrimination.
This compilation is loosely based upon our Hungarian member ÉFOÉSZ’s frequently asked questions on voting rights (in Hungarian). ÉFOÉSZ is campaigning on the right to vote for people under guardianship. Following a number of comments they received on their Facebook page, they wrote the FAQ to address certain concerns.