Supporting young people to vote

15th June 2016

On Thursday 23rd June, the EU Referendum is taking place to decide whether Britain stays in or out of the European Union.

The deadline of Tuesday 7th June has passed for registering to vote, but if your child has registered, they’re already on the way to making their voice heard. Understanding the ins and outs of the debates on the TV and the arguments coming from each side is difficult at the best of times. But making the information more accessible for people with a disability can help your child make an informed decision and support you to help them vote. 

Who can vote?
You must register to vote before you can vote in UK elections or referendums.

You can register to vote when you’re:

  • 16 years old in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (and vote when you’re 18).
  • 14 years old in Scotland (and vote in Scottish elections when you’re 16 and other elections when you’re 18).

After you’ve registered, your name and address will appear on the electoral register.

Ways to vote

You can vote:

  • in person at a polling station
  • by post
  • by proxy (getting someone else to vote for you)

Elections you can vote in

Different elections have different rules on who can vote.


According to Mencap, only 1/3 of people with a learning disability vote in the UK so they want to help people use their right to vote. They’ve produced 11 easy read guides to tell you everything you need to know about voting, registering to vote and supporting someone else to vote, you can find these via the useful links at the bottom of the page or watch their video below:

Where can you get the information?

The national disability charity, United Response, has published an easy read summary covering the forthcoming EU Referendum.

The summary is the sixth edition of Easy News, an award winning accessible magazine created by United Response to make news and current affairs easier to understand for the 1.5 million people with learning disabilities in the UK; many of whom find traditional sources of news complex and difficult to understand. You can read Easy News here

This special issue of Easy News removes the jargon, rhetoric and opinion from the political debate surrounding the EU Referendum. By using simple words and images, the special issue explains the key arguments for the ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ and ‘Vote Leave’ campaigns, along with outlining what the referendum is, and what the EU does, so that people with learning disabilities can be better informed and engaged in the debate ahead of EU Referendum vote on Thursday 23rd June.

Each magazine is translated by the UR Consultants, a group of people with learning disabilities, all of whom are supported and employed by the charity.

Why was Easy News launched?

When Easy News was first launched in 2013, when asked, only 13% of readers felt that politics made a difference to their lives. Twenty bi-monthly news magazines and five special issues later, following the 2015 the General Election, 93% of Easy News readers indicated that they feel they are taking a greater interest in politics as a results of reading the news magazine.

As a charity, United Response has successfully campaigned to open up the democratic process to people with learning disabilities, by creating and delivering the tools needed to enable this group to use their legal right to vote.

Easy News was originally created to keep the interest in politics and current affairs generated by United Response’s Every Vote Counts campaign. The ongoing campaign has been breaking the barriers for people with learning disabilities to engage in the democratic process for the last three successive General Elections. A key tool in the campaign is the dedicated website which provides un-biased, easy to understand information covering all aspects of the democratic process, including up-to-date details about the EU Referendum.

Useful Links


Supporting people with a learning disability or autism to vote.


Works in partnership with people with a learning disability.
Youtube: Watch their pathway to voting video here

Papworth Trust

Aiming to push disability issues higher up the EU Referendum agenda by publishing a report highlighting how disabled people could be affected by the vote.

United Response

Details of United Response’s Every Vote Counts campaign.

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