Voting at Deansbrook

July 2, 2014

In advance of the recent European and Local Elections, the team at Deansbrook received the registration forms for all of the people who are supported. They were very keen that each person should have the opportunity to vote and upon discussion, it was decided that the most appropriate method would be via postal vote. This would allow the people supported to either register their vote in advance or take their cards to the polling station themselves.

As election time drew nearer, the service began to receive literature from the parties standing. The team created an area in the communal lounge where the leaflets would be accessible. These leaflets were made available to everybody for several weeks leading up to the election. During this time several people began to engage in discussion with staff about some of the candidates standing and the parties. The role of the staff team was to encourage and engage in these conversations as much as possible, without expressing their own views or preferences that could influence decisions.

On the day of the election, the support team spoke to each of the individuals about whether they would like to vote. A number of people said that they did not want to, which was their choice and taken as a legitimate political statement in itself, hence the matter wasn’t pressed further. Two people did want to vote so arrangements were made to support them to do so.

Frank has always been interested in politics. He likes to talk about world leaders, with Fidel Castro being a particular favourite.  When asked if he would like to vote, Frank was excited at the opportunity, so he went to the office to ensure confidentiality. Two members of the support team sat with him (to ensure nobody was trying to influence his vote). He was initially asked if he knew who he wanted to vote for and he gave the name of the party. To double check this, the support workers read through the names of all of the parties standing whilst running through the candidates pictures on the voting form. They also had all of the leaflets ready for him to go through if he wished. Frank repeated his initial choice and stopped them when they got to that point. They explained that he needed to put a cross in that box to vote for them and he did. Frank left the office with a big smile on his face and proceeded to proudly tell everyone that he had been voting.

Beatrice is in her 50’s and despite not having expressed any interest in the election or politics to staff, was keen to participate in the process. Again the same process was followed, but she was unsure who to vote for. Beatrice was given the opportunity to read the leaflets available and having gone through the main headlines and explored them for around 20 minutes, she made a decision on her favourite. Again, to double check, each of the names were read out and Beatrice stuck with the one she had chosen from the leaflets. The support team were pleased that Beatrice had taken the extra time to understand what each of the parties were offering and made an informed decision based on that information.

Both Frank and Beatrice were able to travel to the polling station to hand in their votes themselves. When they returned to the service both of them spent time talking about the experience to staff members and they were both happy with the fact that they had been able to take part in the voting process.