Electoral reform consultation: easy read
Easy read version of our consultation on electoral reform.
Part 2 - Voting
Getting more people to vote
The number of people registered to vote is lower in some groups than others. We want as many people to vote as possible. We want your views on how we can get more people from under-represented groups to take part in elections.
Question 12: What do you think we can do nationally or locally to get more people to vote? Please tell us in the box below:
Polls and voting for people with disabilities
The law says that a Tactile Voting Device has to be available in all polling stations. This is a device to help blind and partially sighted people to vote.
We want to make sure that voting must be made more accessible to all people with disabilities. We want your views on the best ways to do this.
Question 13: The Scottish Government wants to find out how best to support people with disabilities to vote including those with sight loss. Which of the following options would you prefer:
- Returning Officers can choose what support to provide to voters with disabilities at polling stations.
- Returning Officers can choose what support to offer voters with disabilities but must continue to provide a form of tactile voting support by law as well.
- No change to the current law which requires Returning Officers to provide a Tactile Voting Device.
- Something else
If you said 'something else' above, please tell us about this in the box below:
Companions help people who need extra support to vote. These can be friends, family or carers. They can help people who find it difficult to vote by themselves and in secret to get around in the polling station or understand the ballot paper. In the UK, a companion is only allowed to support two voters per election.
There might be several people in one family who need support but only one person available to be a companion. We would like your views on raising the number of voters a companion can support.
Question 14: What should be the limit of people a companion can support in one election?
- Stay at 2 people per election
- Raise it to 5 people per election
- Change to another number
If you said 'change to another number' above, please tell us about this in the box below:
Currently all polling cards are sent out in paper format to voters ahead of an election. We wonder if voters should be able to choose to get poll cards digitally in future.
Question 15: Should voters have the choice to be sent digital poll cards instead of paper ones for Scottish elections?
Question 16: How can we make the voting experience better for people who find it difficult to vote independently or in secret? Please tell us in the box below:
Undue influence of voters
It is already against the law to make someone else vote the way you want them to. This is called undue influence. We think this law needs to be updated to make it clearer.
Question 17: Do you agree that the law about 'undue influence' should be easier to understand?
When a person casts another person's vote for them, this is called voting as a 'proxy'. It means the person votes on behalf of someone else. The proxy votes in the way the person they are representing tells them to. Someone who has to travel unexpectedly for medical reasons can get someone else to be their emergency proxy. Under the current rules, if they need a companion to travel with them to hospital, the companion would not be allowed to get someone to vote for them.
The Scottish Government thinks the companion in this situation should also have the right to have someone vote as a proxy for them.
Question 18: Do you think the companions should also have the right to have someone vote as a proxy for them?
Acting as a proxy
No-one can vote as a proxy for more than 2 other people in a Scottish election unless they are the spouse, civil partner, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child or grandchild of the voter. This is to stop a single person voting as a proxy for a large number of people.
We do not see any reason for this law to change in Scotland.
Question 19: Do you have any comments on proxy voting in Scottish elections? Please tell us in the box below:
Postal ballot packs
Anyone who has a postal ballot can send the completed ballot to the Returning Officer by post or hand it in to a polling station. They can hand the ballot in themselves or get someone to hand it in for them.
The UK Government are planning to limit the number of postal ballots a person can hand in to a polling station for UK Parliamentary elections. The Scottish Government thinks the current system is good enough for making sure that postal ballots have been filled in by the right person. We do not see any reason to change the law in Scotland.
Question 20: Do you have any comments on how we handle postal ballots in Scottish elections? Please tell us in the box below:
Most people aged 16 or above living in Scotland have the right to vote in Scottish Parliament and Local Government elections.
Some people who break the law are kept in a hospital for mental health reasons and are not allowed to vote. We would like your views on whether people who are detained in mental health hospitals as a result of criminal activity should still be denied voting rights.
Apart from tourists, asylum seekers are the main group of foreign people aged 16 or over who are living in Scotland without voting rights. The Scottish Government would like to hear the views of people on whether to give asylum seekers living in Scotland the right to vote.
Question 21: Do you think that people who break the law and are detained for mental health reasons should have the right to vote in Scottish Parliament and Local Government elections?
Question 22: Do you have any other comments on voting rights for people who are detained for mental health reasons? Please tell us in the box below:
Question 23: Do you think that asylum seekers living in Scotland should have the right to vote in Scottish Parliament and Local Government elections?
UK Elections Act
The UK Elections Act 2022 made changes to the election process to the UK Parliament. This included the need to prove your identity before you can vote. The Scottish Government does not plan to bring in ID checks for Scottish Parliament and Local Government elections. But ID will be needed to vote in a General Election.
There are also going to be new rules for postal voting in UK elections which will be different from rules for Scottish elections. This will be confusing for voters, especially if there is more than one election on the same day.
Question 24: What issues do you think the changes in the UK law will cause for elections in Scotland? Please tell us in the box below:
Question 25: Should we make sure Scottish elections are not held on the same day as a UK Parliament election?
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