Man Says He Was Denied Vote Because He Has Down Syndrome
July 23, 2004
CARDIFF, WALES--The disability charity Mencap has filed an official complaint with the Denbighshire council claiming that people with learning disabilities are sometimes being denied their right to vote.
Mencap Cymru, the Welsh division of the British disability charity, told BBC Wales that such voters are not offered basic help at polling stations.
The term "learning disabilities" in the United Kingdom is similar to "mental retardation" or "intellectual disabilities" in the United States.
The complaint specifically cites the case of Stephen Thomas, 25, who has Down syndrome.
When Mr. Thomas, who had studied the issues and had chosen his candidate, went to the polls recently, an election official allegedly asked his parents if he would be able to vote at all. Thomas' mother replied that he simply needed for someone to read the ballot questions out loud and allow him to make his own choice. The official said nobody was available to do so, but also refused to allow her to read the ballot to him.
The family said they were very embarrassed, and as the line of waiting voters grew behind them, they decided to leave.
"I'm feeling upset about it," Thomas said.
The Denbighshire council's chief executive told the BBC that the family's complaint does not match statements from electoral staff.
Learning disabled 'denied vote' (BBC News)