These guidelines for the appropriate treatment of people with intellectual disabilities in electoral processes have been developed by the Centro Español de Accesibilidad Cognitiva del Real Patronato sobre Discapacidad [Spanish Centre for Cognitive Accessibility of the Royal Board on Disability].
In order to make the voting procedure accessible to people with intellectual disabilities, the following measures are recommended.
Check if the polling place has signage that offers cognitive support and also whether there is easy-to-read information as this will facilitate the process for people with intellectual disabilities and people with cognitive difficulties in general. If easy-to-read information is available, make sure it is visible for those who need to use it.
Remember that not all people with intellectual disabilities have traits that identify them as such, so it is important that you pay attention to their behaviour, in case you might be dealing with a case of a person with an intellectual disability.
In these cases, the person may find it more difficult to express him/herself, have a slower thought process, find it more difficult to perform actions or may give the impression of being absent-minded.
If this is the case, give him/her enough time to act calmly and confidently. Do not rush him/her either through verbal or body language.
If the person asks you a question, answer in a calm, quiet tone and use simple, clear language. Try to ensure that the person has understood your instructions.
If the person comes to vote and doesn’t have their ID card or some other document with them, ask for it calmly, explaining clearly what is needed.
If the person with an intellectual disability cannot find their polling station, or has problems with the voter rolls or using the booth, try to help them without invading their privacy. If the person needs support in locating a specific polling place, try to accompany them or find someone who can do so, so that the person with an intellectual disability does not become nervous or lost.
If you have identified that this is a person with an intellectual disability, do not get ahead of yourself by offering support that may not be needed. Wait for the person to express their requirements or queries before attending them.
Do not question their right to vote, just because they have an intellectual disability.
Be aware that you can offer these forms of cognitive support, not only to people with intellectual disabilities but also to older people, migrants who do not know our language well, or to anyone who may be flustered for a moment.
As a result of the agreement signed in 2021 between the Ministry of the Interior (A new window will open)and the association Plena Inclusión España (Full Inclusion Spain), a pilot project was launched during the recent May 2023 elections, whereby posters aimed at facilitating cognitive accessibility (people with intellectual disabilities, the elderly) were distributed in polling places in the city of Madrid, a project which also featured the collaboration of the Government Delegation in Madrid. The project, which shall continue for the 23 July elections, consists of a total of seven pictograms designed by Plena Inclusión to facilitate access to the polling place. It is envisaged that this project will be extended to other cities in future calls for proposals. These are the signage models and a guide for displaying them: