Have you ever wondered how you vote when you can’t see a ballot paper?

At this time, telephone voting is the only way a secret vote can be cast by people who are blind or have low vision.

“It’s as close as I can get to secret voting,” says Chris Orr, Blind Low Vision NZ Access and Awareness Advisor who is blind himself.

“I have voted since 1975 and someone used to have to come into the polling booth with me. You would have to place a lot of trust into that person that they were following your wishes.”

“It was quite uplifting when the telephone voting came in.”

People who are blind, deafblind or have low vision have to register to vote by telephone, then they are given a registration number.

The electoral official doesn’t ask for the person’s name, but instead get the person to answer a secret question they selected when they registered. They then read out the selection to make the vote.

Blind Low Vision NZ have been working with the Electoral Commission to provide information for voters in accessible formats. Voting and referendum information is available in audio, large print, e-text, PDF and on the Blind Low Vision NZ’s Telephone Information Service.

“We applaud the Electoral Commission for making this information available in accessible formats,” says Blind Low Vision NZ Chief Executive John Mulka.

“It is essential for democracy that people have equal access to information to make informed decisions and that couldn’t be more apparent when deciding who to vote for or how you are going to vote in referendums.”

For voting information in accessible formats go to the Electoral Commission’s website.

If you are blind or have low vision register for telephone voting by calling the Electoral Commission on 0800 028 028 and select Option One.