A Voice for all at the Ballot Box: d4d Releases Policy for Electoral Reform

Ahead of tomorrow’s election Dignity for Disability has released a policy to reform South Australia’s electoral process. Focusing on making the voting process accessible to all eligible South Australians, the policy proposes reform through the introduction of new legislation.

“The requirements for voting in this state currently exclude some people with disabilities, and there is not enough being done to redress this democratic flaw,” said d4d Party Leader Kelly Vincent MLC.

Dignity for Disability’s electoral reform plan has five main points:

– Introduce an Electoral Act Reform Bill. “The purpose of my Bill will be three-fold,” said Ms Vincent. “Firstly, it will remove the need for voters to mark the ballot paper – a requirement that discriminates against blind and vision impaired South Australians who are not able to vote without help from others, which compromises their independence and confidentiality. Instead, these voters should be able to cast their votes over the phone as they do in Federal Elections.

“Secondly, the Bill will require that all polling booths are accessible by the next election in 2018. It is ridiculous that some voters with physical or sensory disabilities are not able to vote at their local booth.”

“Finally, the Bill will move Election Day to the fourth Saturday in October. Holding an election during Mad March simply diverts attention from the democratic process. We believe election time should be moved to a period on the state calendar that allows our elected officials to be properly scrutinised by South Australians without the distraction of a myriad of festivals and major events. It will also assist in the synchronisation of budgetary cycles.”

– Research into enrolment rates of people with disabilities. “Anecdotal evidence suggests that enrolment rates for people with disabilities are low, and that some people with intellectual disabilities don’t even realise they can vote,” said Ms Vincent. “Dignity for Disability wants to see research conducted in this area, and the creation of a Community Education Officer – Disability who can educate and inform people with disabilities on their rights and responsibilities in the electoral process, as well as promote better engagement with the political process.”

– Instate non-compulsory voting for 16 and 17-year-olds. “Giving people the opportunity to vote before they turn 18 encourages engagement with the political process and the community,” said Ms Vincent. “We want to develop our politically-minded young people and also make sure their issues are given due weight when raised with politicians.”

– Ban corflute election advertising across SA. “Corflute advertising during elections is an environmental disaster that does little more than distract drivers,” said Ms Vincent. “They are also expensive, and therefore give larger parties the campaign advantage. Dignity for Disability decided to forgo campaign corflute advertising for our candidates this election and are calling for a ban on the practice going forward.”