Guide to accessibility

Video provided by the State Confederation of the Deaf

Any person may exercise their right to vote actively, consciously, freely and voluntarily, regardless of how they communicate it and with the means of support they require (article 3.2 of the Organic Law on the General Electoral System).

The Administration must ensure that the right to equal opportunities of persons with disabilities is respected in regard to the access to polling places and stations and their non-discrimination (article 2 of the Regulation on the basic conditions for the participation of persons with disabilities in political life and electoral processes).

There are two aspects of the accessibility of electoral processes to be borne in mind: accessibility for persons who go to the polling place to vote and accessibility for persons appointed as polling station officers.

Video provided by the State Confederation of the Deaf

Polling places and polling stations must be accessible.

The polling station officers will ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise their right to vote as autonomously as possible by making the reasonable adjustments as necessary.

If, during electoral processes for which the General State Administration is responsible, it is established that there is no accessible public transport to the polling place, the General State Administration will provide suitable means of transport for persons with motor disabilities who so request it, free of charge, provided that there the budgetary resources are available. The competent Area Electoral Board or, directly, the corresponding Government Department or Sub-Department can be contacted for the above purpose.

Any complaints or requests regarding accessibility during the electoral period can be sent to the competent Area Electoral Board.

Video provided by the State Confederation of the Deaf

The situation of disability, declared in accordance with article 4 of Royal Legislative Decree 1/2013, of November 29, which approves the text, is considered a sufficient reason to be excused that exempts from the obligation to be involved in a polling station, recasting the General Law on the rights of people with disabilities and their social inclusion.

The contribution by the interested party of the declaration of disability, in whatever degree, will be sufficient for the acceptance to be excused by the Area Electoral Board, without it being necessary to provide a medical certificate detailing the limitations that prevent or hinder the performance of the functions of a member of an Electoral Board (Instruction 6/2011, of April 28, of the Central Electoral Board).

If you do not want to exercise this right, the Administration offers a series of free services for people designated to be part of an Electoral Table:

  1. In the case of deaf or hearing-impaired people, free sign language interpretation service for both holders and stand-ins (whether it is Spanish sign language or, where appropriate, the sign languages of the autonomous communities).

  2. Also, there is a free magnetic induction loop service for deaf or hearing-impaired people who use hearing aids, both holders and stand-ins.

  3. In the case of blind or severely visually impaired persons, the Administration shall provide them with the necessary tools and mechanisms to enable them to carry out their duties. The Area Electoral Board will determine the means or support necessary so that they can exercise their functions with due autonomy.

  4. Also, in the case of people with intellectual disabilities, the same action will be taken as in the previous case, with the Area Electoral Board determining the necessary means or support.

People who want to use these services may request it from the Area Electoral Board in writing and within a period of seven days from notification of their appointment. The Area Electoral Board will inform the corresponding Delegation / Sub-delegation of the Government of the cases in which it has decided that the corresponding service must be provided, communicating it to the Ministry of the Interior, which is responsible for coordinating the electoral processes at the state level. Simultaneously, when this is the case, it shall also inform the State Confederation of Deaf People (CNSE) in the case of the free sign language interpreter service, and the Spanish Confederation of Families of Deaf People (FIAPAS) in the case of the magnetic induction loop.

Video provided by the State Confederation of the Deaf

In the event that a voter is unable to submit this request in person at the Post Office due to an illness or disability (which must be proven by means of a free official medical certificate), the postal vote request may be made on his/her behalf by another authorised person via notarial or consular channels by means of a document which will be drawn up on an individual basis for each voter; several voters may not be included it and an individual person may not represent more than one voter.

The competent Electoral Board will verify the concurrence of all these circumstances in each case.

The procedure is as follows: Interested persons should contact a Notary Public, who will act, free of charge (General Council of Notaries) and provide the free official medical certificate referred to in article 72.c) of the LOREG [Organic Law of the Electoral Regime].

The notary will travel to the voter’s place of residence, whether it be a hospital, a retirement home or the home of a relative. The same procedure used in ordinary postal voting will then be followed.

In other words: The person representing him/her may go (within the postal vote application period: from 16 April to 30 May) in person with his/her ID card and power of attorney to any Post Office and request the postal vote form. The Post Office services will send all the documentation to the Electoral Census Office, which will record on the Census Lists that the request to vote by post has been made (and therefore VOTING IN PERSON WILL NO LONGER BE POSSIBLE) and send the following documentation to the proxy by registered post to the address indicated or, failing that, the address that appears in the Census:

  • Ballot papers and envelopes.
  • The electoral roll registration certificate.
  • An envelope containing the address of the polling station where they are entitled to vote.
  • An explanatory sheet.

This documentation must also be collected in person by the representative, subject to proof of identity. If the person is not at home, he/she will have to pick it up in person at the corresponding Post Office.

ídeo proporcionado por Confederación Estatal de Personas Sordas:

1. Act naturally and respectfully.

Persons with disabilities are autonomous and independent and should be treated as such.

It should not be assumed that a person needs help, simply because he/she has a disability. If the environment is accessible, persons with disabilities can usually manage without any difficulty.

In all cases, be guided by common sense and the principle of equality and non-discrimination.

2. Ask before you help.

Ask if your assistance is necessary only if the voter with a disability appears to need it. And if the person accepts it, ask him/her how you can help specifically.

Address the person with a disability directly, not the person accompanying him/her (e.g. a trusted person, sign language interpreter, etc.), as appropriate.

3. Use common sense.

For example, start from the idea that a person in a wheelchair is a seated person and, when faced with a seated person, it is usual to bend down to be at his/her height or sit on a chair opposite.

If there is a specific incident raised by a person with a disability and you don’t know what to do, contact the returning officer or the Area Electoral Board.

If a queue forms at voting time, it is advisable for persons with disabilities to be given preference in casting their votes.

Guide dogs and dogs providing assistance for people with disabilities shall always be admitted and not separated from the person in need, disturbed or distracted.

4. Be cautious about any physical contact.

Some people with disabilities rely on their arms to keep their balance. Taking them by the arm, even if your intention is to help, may cause them to lose their balance or frighten them because they aren’t expecting such contact.

Avoid touching wheelchairs or, as appropriate, walking sticks; persons with disabilities regard these items as part of their personal space.

5. Access to the polling place and the path to the polling station: support and information.

At the request of voters with disabilities, and only when they so request, at the entrance to the polling place, the representative of the Administration or the security forces may accompany them on the route to the relevant desk, without pushing or touching the wheelchair, as appropriate, unless the person so requests.

If the person is visually-impaired, you can offer to hold onto his/her arm. In this case, adapt your pace to that of the visually-impaired person, taking into account the characteristics of the environment you are moving in so that he/she can walk comfortably.

In order to respond to potential requests for information and provide guidance for persons with disabilities on access to the polling place and how to move around the polling place to get to the relevant desk, the guidelines specified in the following section should be taken into account.

6. Guidelines to facilitate communication: communicating clearly.

In relation to the deaf or hearing-impaired, it is advisable to speak from the front and not to move your head; avoid speaking to them when your back is turned or when you are bending down or writing; don’t shout and vocalise normally, in other words, speak to them with the normal pace of any conversation without having objects in your mouth or obstructing a clear view of your face; if necessary, use writing, natural gestures or call their attention with a light touch on the arm; the place should be well lit and the deaf or hearing-impaired person should not be facing the sun, as backlighting makes it difficult to see the face.

Don’t communicate with single words, as it can be misleading. Deaf people need the full content of a sentence to understand the context.

When interacting with a visually-impaired person, avoid using generic indications such as “here”, “there”, “this” and so on. In these cases, it is preferable to use more indicative expressions, such as: “to your left” and “behind you”. If you want to provide information on an object, you can guide the visually-impaired person’s hand to the object that you are giving information about and tell them what it is.

If you are talking to a visually-impaired person, let them know if you are going to be absent, otherwise they may continue to address you thinking that you are still with them. Similarly, if you return, it is advisable to let them know.

Check that the person with a disability has understood what you are trying to convey to them.

  • Articles 3, 72 c) and 87 of Organic Law 5/1985 of 19 June on the General Electoral System (LOREG).

  • Articles 1 and 8 of Royal Decree 605/1999 of 16 April on the complementary regulation of electoral processes.

  • Royal Decree 422/2011 of 25 March approving the regulation on the basic conditions for the participation of persons with disabilities in political life and electoral processes.

  • Royal Decree 1612/2007 of 7 December regulating an accessible voting procedure to facilitate the exercise of the right to vote by visually-impaired persons.

  • ORDER INT/3817/2007 of 21 December, which implements the accessible voting procedure to facilitate the exercise of the right to vote by visually-impaired persons regulated by Royal Decree 1612/2007 of 7 December.

  • JEC INSTRUCTION 7/2019 of 18 March, which redrafts Instruction 5/2019 on the application of the amendment of the Organic Law on the General Electoral System implemented by Organic Law 2/2018 of 5 December to guarantee the right of suffrage of all persons with disabilities.

Further information: