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Blind Holloway resident in row over voting slip

PUBLISHED: 06:18 30 April 2012

Bill Derbyshire has written to Number 10

Bill Derbyshire has written to Number 10

Archant

A blind resident has written to Number 10 complaining that his right to vote is being blocked because he can’t read the polling paper.

Bill Derbyshire, who is severely visually impaired and registered blind, says the print is far too small on his postal ballot for the mayoral elections on Thursday, May 3.

He insists this means he won’t be able to cast his vote at all – and has simply chucked the ballot paper in the rubbish.

Mr Derbyshire, 59, of Roman Way, Holloway, said: “It’s very important to me because family members have been lost in battle fighting for the right for people here to vote, but there’s no way I can do it.”

Islington Council has refused his request for a form with larger type because by law everyone has to use the same size slips.

He added: “I feel this is a breach of the disability discrimination act and my legal right to vote. I can’t vote until I get forms that are big enough and I want to see what Downing Street has to say.”

A polling station officer would be able to help, but Mr Derbyshire also has walking problems that make it tricky for him to get down there.

Braille aides are no good either, because he lost his sight as an adult and cannot read them, while the Electoral Commission says strictly speaking he can’t get another person to fill out his postal ballot.

Mr Derbyshire, who has never married, says there’s no one he would trust to do so anyway, or to be a proxy voter – and he feels it is his right to be able to choose his candidate by himself.

Blind campaigner Elizabeth Jones, 83, of Yerbury Road, Upper Holloway, said: “It’s a problem for blind people. I use a postal vote and I have to get someone to fill it in for me.”

A spokesman for Islington Council said: “The law allows for qualified election staff to visit the homes of disabled residents to assist with physically completing their ballot paper as long as staff keep this information secret.

“We’ve already offered to visit Mr Derbyshire in his home to help him complete his postal vote.

“Election staff are also on hand to help any disabled person cast their vote on the day at any polling station.”


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