Rose Wilkinson, Chief Executive

Political parties are well underway with their respective 2023 General Election campaigns, informing voters about their policies, stances and aspirations if they become Government. This is a great opportunity to provide some history about Telephone Dictation Voting and how this came about. Perhaps most important is what this actually means for the population of voters who are blind, deafblind, vision impaired, or have low vision (blind people).

Guided by the voice of our members and others in the blind community, Blind Citizens NZ advocated long and hard for an ‘accessible’ voting option that ensured the independence, confidence and dignity of blind people voting in elections. Telephone Dictation Voting in general elections is the result of Blind Citizens NZ’s advocacy. We recognise there were many others who supported our efforts. This ensured the success benefitted blind people, as well as individuals unable to independently complete a voting paper without assistance in general elections. The success of the pilot in the 2014 General Election is why Telephone Dictation Voting remains an option for voters today – an option for blind people to cast an independent secret vote with confidence and dignity.

At the same time as Telephone Dictation Voting was piloted, Blind Citizens NZ’s advocacy contributed to the Electoral Commission recognising the need for information about enrolling and voting in general elections to be accessible to disabled people.

The Electoral Commission continues to uphold its commitment, and provides information about enrolling and voting for blind people in large print, Braille, audio and electronically.

Blind Citizens NZ urges you to give Telephone Dictation Voting a try in this year’s General Election. While blind voters can go to a polling booth and have someone of your choice to assist cast your vote, using Telephone Dictation to cast your vote offers a great experience. Early voting is open now and the next article has the information you need to register for and vote using Telephone Dictation.