How to vote as a young wheelchair user

Everything you need to know about voting in the general election on 4 July 2024

Your vote is your most powerful tool to get the world you want. Not bad for just making an X in a box with a stubby pencil. It’s your fundamental right as a citizen in a democracy. They even supply the pencil. 

It’s widely known that young people are less likely to vote than older people in Western democracies. Although there's no officially collected data, IPSOS Mori produces estimates of how different age groups voted in each election. For the 2019 General Election, their report suggests people aged 18-24 were least likely to vote (47% turnout), with those over 65 most likely to vote (74%). This creates a disadvantage, where the young have less influence on who gets into power and who makes policy. 

What barriers are there to voting?

For young wheelchair users, the disadvantage is doubled by the challenges we face even casting a vote in the first place. There are physical barriers. The school or village hall transformed into a polling station can be inaccessible for wheelchairs. Is there disabled parking there? What about the public transport to get there? Can your wheelchair fit into the voting booth?

Kidz Board on voting

We asked Ruby (above), a member of Kidz Board, the campaigning group of young wheelchair users at the heart of Whizz Kidz, whether she was going to vote. She said: “I'm very excited to vote. I voted for the first time in the mayoral election and I'm going to vote to exercise my right in the general election.”

Did she face any challenges in her debut vote? 

“I went in my walking frame. I will go in my wheelchair for the general. It wasn’t always clear. There were lower counters for you to sit at and do your thing because I still needed to sit down while I was doing it, and I also had to wait in a really long queue. Then they said, you don't have to wait in the queue, and they eventually took me to the voting booth.”

“My mum couldn't find any disabled parking around the polling station close to my house, so I had to go a long distance to get there, which was difficult,” she added.

Vice-chair of Kidz Board, Rebecca (below), didn’t have any issues with her first vote, although “the box to put the ballot papers in for the local elections was a bit high, but someone could have helped me if needed.”

What about the need for photo ID, which came in last year for the first time? 

“No issue. So many disability things (blue badge, freedom pass, taxi card, etc) are accepted, and they have free citizen card codes available, so there's been no issue for me,” she said.

What's her advice for young wheelchair users who will be voting for the first time?

“Just make sure to go out and vote. They had specific sections of the voting table for wheelchair users that were lower down, but ask people there if you need help.”

And if you could get politicians to listen, what would you ask them to do for young wheelchair users?

“Listen to us. Improve the NHS (particularly wheelchair services) to work for young wheelchair users rather than against them.”

The voting experience may vary, but the good news is that the law is on your side—you have the right to vote independently and in secret. Local authorities are required by law to ensure that you have the opportunity to do so, including providing the necessary support at your local polling station. Nobody can be refused the right to vote because of their disability.

With the correct information, you can reduce the complexity and ensure you’re prepped and excited to vote. Here’s everything you need to know.

Who can vote in the general election on 4 July?

To vote in this general election, you must be 18 by (or on) the 4 July 2024. You must be a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen living in the UK.

How do you register to vote?

You must be registered to vote. Register by 11.59pm on 18 June to vote in the General Election on 4 July. This is simple and takes minutes. You’ll need your National Insurance number, although you can still register without one or find it through an online form. You usually only need to re-register if you change your address, name, or nationality.

Who can I vote for in my area?

In the UK general election, you can vote for the person who represents your area in the House of Commons. However, the boundaries have changed, so many constituencies (the voting area that elects a representative) will differ in this election.

You can find out who’s standing, where your polling station is, and contact details for your local council on the electoral commission site.

There are 650 constituencies across the UK, each returning one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons in Westminster. There are 543 constituencies in England, 57 in Scotland, 32 in Wales, and 18 in Northern Ireland. Your vote determines who becomes the local MP and which party wins the UK's general election overall.

How to vote in person

You vote in person at your local polling station, usually a public building near your home, such as a school or a local hall.

Where is my local polling station?

You will be sent a poll card before the election telling you which polling station to vote at. You don’t need your poll card to vote. If you haven’t received a poll card, contact your local Electoral Registration Office.

When can you vote?

Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm on an election day. If you are queuing to vote before 10pm, you can stay to cast your vote.

What happens when you get to the polling station?

When you arrive, you give your name and address to staff inside the polling station. You’ll need to show your photo ID to vote in this election. You will then be given a ballot paper showing the candidates you can vote for. There will be instructions on how to fill in your ballot paper in the polling booth.

How to find out more about access

If you have a disability, your local Electoral Registration Office can tell you about physical access, such as wheelchair ramps and disabled parking spaces, low-level polling booths, and any specific equipment you need. Find your local Electoral Registration Office.

What support should be expected at the polling station?

Polling stations have a legal duty to make sure you can vote independently and confidently. To make this possible, the Electoral Commission advises that all polling stations have:

  • Ramps (for buildings with steps) – so voters who use a wheelchair or have difficulty using steps can access the polling station.
  • Parking spaces are reserved for disabled voters (where parking is available at the venue). This ensures that disabled voters can park as close as possible to the polling station.
  • A polling booth at wheelchair level helps ensure that voters who use a wheelchair can access a lower writing surface to cast their vote.
  • Pencil grip: for voters who need support to hold and use a pencil more easily.
  • Tactile voting device for voters with visual impairments
  • Temporary alerters or temporary doorbells. Any doors that are required to remain shut during the day (for example, fire doors) should have these. Voters can use them to let polling station staff know that they need assistance to open the door so they can access the polling station.
  • Chairs/seating provide a place to rest for voters who cannot stand for long periods and a seat for voters who want to think before entering the polling booth. 
  • Badges. All polling staff should wear badges identifying themselves if you need help. 
  • Appropriate lighting — some polling station venues have good lighting, but others may need additional lighting at the desk to ensure that voters can clearly see the faces of staff and in the polling booths and to support voters with visual impairments in reading and completing the ballot paper. 

Asking for support at the polling station

You’re entitled to get support from polling staff if you need it. They should be able to guide you to where you need to go and give you the information you need to cast a vote. It’s by no means obvious, even for people who have been voting for years, so don’t be put off asking for help.

You can also get support to mark your ballot paper from either the Presiding Officer at the polling station or someone you bring to help you. They must be over 18 and will have to sign a written declaration that you have asked them for help at the polling station.

What happens if you can’t get into the polling station?

The polling station staff should make every effort to make the polling station accessible. But as a last resort, the Presiding Officer should bring the ballot paper out to you so you can cast your vote independently. 

What voter ID do I need to bring?

All voters need to show photo ID at the polling station to vote at the general election, following the introduction of a new law in May 2023.

What photo ID is accepted?

The following photo ID types are included (for a complete list, go to You must use the original document, not a digital copy or photocopy. (You can still use your photo ID if it's out of date, as long as it looks like you.)

UK Passport

UK Driving licence (including a provisional licence)

Blue Badge

PASS card (National Proof of Age Standards Scheme)

Disabled person’s bus pass

Freedom Pass

Scottish National Entitlement Card (NEC)

Disabled Person’s Welsh Concessionary Travel Card

Northern Ireland concessionary travel pass

What if I don’t have an acceptable photo ID?

You can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate if you don’t have an acceptable photo ID or no longer look like the photo on your ID. It’s free, and you need a recent digital photo of yourself and your National Insurance number (or other documents that prove your identity). You must apply by 5pm on 26 June 2024 to get a Voter Authority Certificate in time for this General Election.

Other ways to vote: postal

You don’t have to get to the Polling Station on 4 July. You can apply for a postal vote. Your ballot paper will be sent to your home to complete and return. There’s no need to give a reason for wanting to vote by post unless you’re voting in Northern Ireland. If you wish to apply online for a postal vote, you must apply by 5pm on 19 June 2024.

If you’ve already completed your ballot paper and are too late to post it back, you can take it to your local polling station on election day. 

Voting by proxy

If you can’t vote in person on the day, you can ask someone to vote for you for specific reasons, including being away on polling day or because you have a disability. You must apply by 5pm on 26 June 2024 to vote by proxy in the general election.

Whizz Kidz’s Election Ask

Whizz Kidz is calling on the next Government to reshape NHS wheelchair services for future generations. We’d appreciate your help making this call louder by emailing your local general election candidates. 

Let’s make the 4 July a day that makes a real difference for young wheelchair users and their families. We have a prewritten email you can send or add your own comments to. Just enter your postcode and ask your local candidates if they will put young wheelchair users first.