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  • Writer's picturePeta

Can people with disabilities vote?

Do you think that it is as easy for people with disabilities to have their democracy sausage as you on election day? (For those of you not in Australia yes we do have a BBQ at polling stations.)

What about people with disabilities going into politics? All these questions are answered on this weeks episode.

You can ask Peta a question via:


You can follow Peta's personal account on Instagram @petahooke

References used in this episode:


Episode Transcript:

Peta [00:00:02] Hello and welcome to The I Can't Stand Podcast, the podcast, answering your questions on what it's like to live with a disability. My name is Peta, I'm your host and I have cerebral palsy and I'd love to answer your questions. If you'd like to ask me a question and for it to appear on the podcast, there are three ways you can do so. One, by my Instagram @petahooke, which is spelt p e t a h o o k e. Via my email or by my website OK, without any further ado, let's get into it.

Peta [00:00:58] This week, I had a question from David, David asked me,

David [00:01:04] Peta, can all people with disabilities vote?

Peta [00:01:09] The short answer is yes, people with disabilities do have the right to vote. I voted in every state and federal election and I am very proud to have the right to vote both as a female and a person with a disability. So people with disabilities vote regardless of the disability the person has. We all have the right to vote. But despite us all having the right to vote, there are many obstacles that people face when engaging in the political system.

[00:01:48] The most commonly reported issues were physical access to the voting location. Difficulties in interpreting and reading the ballot. Waiting in line. Now, I normally vote prior to the day because they aren't accessible toilets that I can use in polling stations. I obviously have to hang on for the period of time that I'm away from home, so if I'm in a line for a few hours, that could be an issue. In the last state election here in Victoria, no one could tell me which voting stations were accessible. It wasn't listed on the website correctly, it requested that I ring each polling station, which I then did, but unfortunately, the people at the polling station didn't seem to have much experience with accessibility and were not trained on disability needs because when I enquired if the polling station was accessible. They couldn't tell me. I understand many people have different accessibility needs, but to me, this is just a basic right that everybody should have access to voting in their state and federal elections.

[00:03:20] The other barriers that people with disabilities face with voting are societal, including discrimination and stigma. For example, people with intellectual or psychological disabilities are often not encouraged to engage in this process. They're not given the opportunity to educate themselves and cast their vote. I do believe that many people in society do think that people with intellectual disabilities do not have the capability to cast their votes, which is just simply not true. They [are] often deterred from voting by attitudes from family members. Some have reported that the support workers that went to help them vote influenced how they voted, which is just not OK.

[00:04:16] Following on from that, I found a fantastic resource that was called Strategies to support people with intellectual disabilities to participate in voting. They recommended supporting and resourcing self-advocacy groups to provide encouragement and information to people with intellectual disabilities about voting. Developing an individual's confidence and willingness to vote via educational programmes would be very valuable. The report also recommended to ensure that information is easily accessible and produced in formats such as easy English. And if you don't know what easy English is. Easy English, according to DHHS, easy English is a way of writing that uses the everyday words, simple sentences and imagery to support messages. It is different to plain English or plain language.

[00:05:22] For people who have vision impairment or are blind. They can cast their vote over the phone. Or they can cast their vote with assistance at the polling place or by post. However, their assistant has to read the ballot. For me, it's very important that I can independently cast my vote without help. And I'm sure that's the case for many people, including people with vision impairment, so I can appreciate why people would be uncomfortable to bring an assistant with them. Because in the end, you are putting a great amount of trust in someone that they're putting the numbers in the boxes as you requested.

[00:06:10] Before jumping on mic, I did a bit of research and I found in the whole of Australia's history, both federally and on a state basis, there's only been 17 individuals with a disability in state politics and 6 people in Federal politics. Being elected represented officials. That's not that many people. Not only that, only one of those individuals is female. Got to work on that diversity, guys, we are not getting the inclusion and equality that people with disabilities deserve. So at the moment, there is only one elected official in Australian politics that has a disability, his name is Jordan Alexander Stelle John. What a name hey? Good name. He's currently elected for Western Australia, for the Australian Greens Party.

[00:07:11] Sorry, I've never done this before, but this is Peta in the future, since recording this episode, I've met Jordan. He's so lovely and I'm very excited to say that he's coming on the podcast in the coming weeks. He is so articulate and a fantastic advocate for people with disabilities. I'm really looking forward to our conversation together. To be honest, it's a bit weird for me to think that only a few weeks ago when I was recording this, I didn't know who Jordan was. And now he's going to come on the podcast, so something to look forward to. OK, past Peta over to you.

[00:07:55] And I feel quite naive, to be honest because I've never even thought about going into politics and the fact that people with disabilities weren't represented. I've only ever thought my participation to my country was from voting as a citizen, like every other citizen that we have here in Australia. So. The fact that we've only had nine individuals in Australian politics with the disability. Shouldn't surprise me, but it really does. I am pleased to say that regardless of the sort of disability a person has, they have the right to vote and do vote in Australia. I'm also very pleased to say that there is documentation to support people in voting, that people are actually thinking about people with disabilities participating in these fried. Of course, like many things with disability, there is a need for improvement and also. More opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in politics.

[00:09:12] Thank you, as always, for listening to this week's episode, if you could please write and review the podcast. If you listen on Apple podcasts, I would really appreciate it. It helps me get found on the platform. Or if you listen on Spotify, please click that little heart. It all helps for the podcast to grow until next week. Guys have a good one by.


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