The European Disability Forum welcomes the European Parliament legislative initiative to reform the European Union (EU) electoral law of 1976,and its commitment to make the EU elections more inclusive for the 100 million Europeans with disabilities. This is why we have prepared a set of proposals for amendments aiming at ensuring the right to vote and the right to stand as candidates for persons with disabilities, as well as improving the accessibility of the European Parliament elections.
In the 2019 EU elections, approximately 400,000 persons with disabilities in 14 Member States were deprived from their right to vote. Many more persons with disabilities could not exercise this very basic political right because of lack of accessibility of the elections, restrictions in choosing assistance to vote, and lack of specific measures to guarantee the possibility to vote independently and in secret. In eight Member States, people who cannot get to a polling station (because of accessibility barriers, reduced mobility, or living in a residential institution), do not have any other possibility to vote by themselves – not even by postal voting.
Therefore, given the European Parliament’s intention of setting up common provisions to strengthen the EU’s elections system, we propose a set of amendments to the draft report with the following objectives:
- Referring to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and particularly to its article 29 on participation in political and public life.
- Ensuring the right to vote and stand as candidate regardless of legal capacity status. Being under partial or total guardianship must not limit the political rights of any EU citizen.
- Improving the accessibility of the EU elections for persons with disabilities by tackling three crucial elements at national level: the introduction of accessibility requirements, the implementation of specific solutions for persons with disabilities, and guaranteeing free choice of assistance to vote. EDF proposals do take into consideration the different voting practices across the EU with the aim of ensuring that persons with disabilities can vote independently and in secret.
- Ensuring the right to vote for people living in closed residential settings.
- Guaranteeing accessibility in electronic and internet voting, and in electoral materials by using the existing EU harmonised accessibility legislation.
- Assuring the meaningful involvement of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations in their countries’ efforts to make elections more inclusive, and making sure that citizens with disabilities receive information about the measures put in place.
After the proposed amendments, EDF provides further explanations and examples of different accessibility solutions to prove that our recommendations are totally feasible, and only require the political will to be implemented.
In the coming weeks, EDF will reach out to Members of the European Parliament Constitutional Affairs committee to promote these amendments to the proposed EU electoral law. Because a new EU electoral system must be fully in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the which the EU and every European Member State is a party, and because this is the inclusive democracy we should all have in the EU.
Download the position paper below:
EDF position paper on the reform of the European Union Electoral Law
Alejandro Moledo, Head of Policy