DPA made a submission to the Inquiry into the 2022 Local Elections, drawing on our members' feedback on the barriers that disabled people experienced as voters.
Barriers included the difficulty in casting postal ballots now that many postal outlets and boxes have been closed, and the lack of electoral information in alternate formats.
Notably the Dunedin, Auckland and Wellington City Councils aimed to make their election processes more accessible for all, setting up polling places at community facilities and supermarkets, and using library buses and other means to create mobile voting booths. Auckland and Wellington City Councils also provided some electoral information in alternate formats.
DPA made the following recommendations:
- We would like to see the Local Electoral Act 2001 completely overhauled and replaced with new, updated legislation. This law is nearly 25 years old and has largely failed to keep up with both technological and societal change.
- That local electoral legislation introduce a requirement to provide a range of options for casting a vote at all local government elections including
- digital voting,
- telephone dictation voting,
- Braille and large print ballots (as used in parliamentary elections)
- onsite, in-person voting (eg: at community centres and supermarkets)
- assisted voting
- That under the new local electoral legislation, all electoral information be made available in accessible formats including, Braille, Easy Read, New Zealand Sign Language, large print, and audio.
- That postal voting as an option be retained at local government elections.
- That the Electoral Commission assumes full responsibility for the administration and conduct of local government elections in close collaboration with local authorities.
- That the Electoral Commission should have a legislative duty to improve accessibility to all aspects of the local electoral process, including for disabled people and other population groups which experience barriers to electoral participation.
- That the Electoral Commission should handle all complaints processes pertaining to the conduct of local elections and ensure that all complaints processes and information about them are accessible to everyone, including disabled voters and candidates.
Read the full DPA Submission on the Inquiry into the 2022 Local Elections.