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European Economic and Social Committee publishes report on disability and voting rights in Europe

Friday 22 March 2019

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has published an information report presenting current situation relating to the rights of persons with disabilities to vote in the forthcoming European Parliament elections. The report is entitled "Real rights of persons with disabilities to vote in EP elections" and shows that despite legal protections around the voting rights of persons with disabilities in the EU, considerable numbers of people are unable to participate in elections. This includes reasons of technical or physical barriers which do not take into account the needs of individuals with disabilities.

In addition, it is estimated that around 800,000 EU citizens with mental health problems or intellectual disabilities will be deprived of their right to vote as a result of national rules in place in 16 Member States. This includes nine EU countries, where persons automatically lose their right to vote when their legal capacity is reduced or when they have a guardian appointed and a further seven whereby voting ability is individually assessed by either courts or medical boards. The report also highlights further technical barriers including narrow definitions of accessibility, as well as inaccessible or difficult to understand information. At the plenary session of the EESC, members voted to distribute the report to EU institutions, national governments as well as to NGOs representing persons with disabilities or focusing on human rights. An abridged version of the report can be read here: https://www.eesc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/files/qe-03-19-084-en-n.pdf

The full report can be read here: www.eesc.europa.eu/the-real-right-of-persons-with-disabilities-to-vote-in-EP-elections

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