Disabled man 'unable to vote' after finding he could not get his wheelchair into polling station

Surrey Comet: Disabled man 'unable to vote' after finding he could not get his wheelchair into polling station Disabled man 'unable to vote' after finding he could not get his wheelchair into polling station

A disability campaigner missed out on voting in the local elections after finding his polling station was not wheelchair accessible.

Adam Lotun said he felt “disempowered, disenchanted and disaffected” after leaving the Sunray community centre in Knollmead, Tolworth, without having ticked his ballot paper.

The 51-year-old, a disability risk management consultant and former parliamentary candidate, said: “I went along to my station, went up the ramp and found I couldn’t get in because the thresholds on both the outer and inner doors were not accessible, and went down to a lower level.

"Nobody had ramps to get over this obstruction, and I left unable to vote.

“It wasn’t an issue for me last time because I didn’t need a wheelchair.

“An officer told me that they had mentioned this previously to the returning officer, so the returning officer has known about this for at least four years.

“At about quarter to six I got an email from the returning officer himself.

“He suggested I go back and get the presiding officer to assist me, otherwise I would not be able to exercise my democratic rights on the day.

“It left me feeling disempowered, disenchanted and disaffected. I felt excluded, like a second class citizen.”

A council spokesman said: "We are very sorry that the gentleman could not get his wheelchair into the polling station. We were in touch with him to discuss his complaint on the day.

“We take our responsibilities for access for disabled people very seriously, and try to ensure that polling stations are accessible to all voters.

"The presiding officer at the polling station offered assistance to the gentleman."

Comments (13)

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6:35am Sat 31 May 14

surfnutt says...

There's always a whinger he could have voted by post? Moan moan moan
There's always a whinger he could have voted by post? Moan moan moan surfnutt
  • Score: -2

10:26am Sat 31 May 14

Irish Lass says...

“We take our responsibilities for access for disabled people very seriously, and try to ensure that polling stations are accessible to all voters.

Clearly you DON'T!
“We take our responsibilities for access for disabled people very seriously, and try to ensure that polling stations are accessible to all voters. Clearly you DON'T! Irish Lass
  • Score: 1

10:32am Sat 31 May 14

Irish Lass says...

surfnutt wrote:
There's always a whinger he could have voted by post? Moan moan moan
surfnutt - you need to spend some time with people in wheelchairs to get some understanding of the daily obstacles and challenges IMPOSED on them by people who don't give a **** about their needs.

Whoever you are, grow up.
[quote][p][bold]surfnutt[/bold] wrote: There's always a whinger he could have voted by post? Moan moan moan[/p][/quote]surfnutt - you need to spend some time with people in wheelchairs to get some understanding of the daily obstacles and challenges IMPOSED on them by people who don't give a **** about their needs. Whoever you are, grow up. Irish Lass
  • Score: 7

1:28pm Sat 31 May 14

IanGeorge says...

This simply can't be allowed to happen again.
This simply can't be allowed to happen again. IanGeorge
  • Score: 7

3:29pm Sat 31 May 14

JPR says...

I love Kinston, so many racists who hate disabled people...
I experience it EVERY single day, even with too many civil servants.
I love Kinston, so many racists who hate disabled people... I experience it EVERY single day, even with too many civil servants. JPR
  • Score: -4

3:39pm Sat 31 May 14

alroutemaster says...

Oh dear, mountain out of a molehill. Get a postal vote, quick and simple. As a "disability campaigner" I think he's just trying to score some sort of point. Well it does not wash with me mate, so on your wheelchair!
Oh dear, mountain out of a molehill. Get a postal vote, quick and simple. As a "disability campaigner" I think he's just trying to score some sort of point. Well it does not wash with me mate, so on your wheelchair! alroutemaster
  • Score: 1

5:23pm Sat 31 May 14

mikenm says...

He shouldn't have to get a postal vote just to enable him to vote. It's an option available to everyone, should they feel it suits them.

As the article clearly states, he did not know the venue was not accessible to some or all wheelchair users, as he wasn't using one the last time he voted there. Therefore he didn't feel the need to get a postal vote, not that he should have to. He is only now experiencing the difficulties wheelchair users and others with various disabilities encounter everyday.

All that said, I do know that RBK do have problems finding suitable venues in some polling districts. But then, if venues are willing to take the money for hosting polling stations, they should also spend some moneyu on making them safely accessible. A ramp alone is not necessarily safe.

Some people should really just go back to playing with their smurfs and routemasters and not venture out into real life.
He shouldn't have to get a postal vote just to enable him to vote. It's an option available to everyone, should they feel it suits them. As the article clearly states, he did not know the venue was not accessible to some or all wheelchair users, as he wasn't using one the last time he voted there. Therefore he didn't feel the need to get a postal vote, not that he should have to. He is only now experiencing the difficulties wheelchair users and others with various disabilities encounter everyday. All that said, I do know that RBK do have problems finding suitable venues in some polling districts. But then, if venues are willing to take the money for hosting polling stations, they should also spend some moneyu on making them safely accessible. A ramp alone is not necessarily safe. Some people should really just go back to playing with their smurfs and routemasters and not venture out into real life. mikenm
  • Score: 0

6:52pm Sat 31 May 14

pinky107 says...

As he wasnt in a wheelchair last time it didnt matter about the lack of access , but now he is , it does . funny that and he needed to write to the paper , how sad . As for the '' “disempowered, disenchanted and disaffected” pathetic , grow up man , it's not the end of the world . if everyplace were to cater for every minorities needs it would cost a fortune just for the sake of something that will only get used every once in a blue moon . what next 38 stone man couldnt vote because the doors werent wide enough , same difference really , both disabilities in their own way . vote by post , job done .
tolworth station doesnt have wheel chair facilities , try moaning at them .
as for JPR ; how is it racist to hate disabled people , and why is everyone in kingston Racist ?? good to see the race card being pulled for no reason again .
As he wasnt in a wheelchair last time it didnt matter about the lack of access , but now he is , it does . funny that and he needed to write to the paper , how sad . As for the '' “disempowered, disenchanted and disaffected” pathetic , grow up man , it's not the end of the world . if everyplace were to cater for every minorities needs it would cost a fortune just for the sake of something that will only get used every once in a blue moon . what next 38 stone man couldnt vote because the doors werent wide enough , same difference really , both disabilities in their own way . vote by post , job done . tolworth station doesnt have wheel chair facilities , try moaning at them . as for JPR ; how is it racist to hate disabled people , and why is everyone in kingston Racist ?? good to see the race card being pulled for no reason again . pinky107
  • Score: 5

12:28am Sun 1 Jun 14

mikenm says...

pinky107, you have precisely described the problem yourself - "As he wasn't in a wheelchair last time it didn't matter about the lack of access , but now he is, it does."

Yes, he has now discovered that it is problematic to do activities that other people take for granted when in a wheelchair. Perhaps you should try it and see. I don't use a wheelchair, but I am aware of the problems faced by those who are.

As for your "will only get used every once in a blue moon" comment, have you not thought that this is because they're not accessible?

Get a grip man, and think logically before launching into a diatribe.

I remain unsure as to what role Tolworth station plays in the democratic process, perhaps you could enlighten me? I'm sure it's a fine station, although I've never set foot in it. Anyone with any sense uses Surbiton Station.
pinky107, you have precisely described the problem yourself - "As he wasn't in a wheelchair last time it didn't matter about the lack of access , but now he is, it does." Yes, he has now discovered that it is problematic to do activities that other people take for granted when in a wheelchair. Perhaps you should try it and see. I don't use a wheelchair, but I am aware of the problems faced by those who are. As for your "will only get used every once in a blue moon" comment, have you not thought that this is because they're not accessible? Get a grip man, and think logically before launching into a diatribe. I remain unsure as to what role Tolworth station plays in the democratic process, perhaps you could enlighten me? I'm sure it's a fine station, although I've never set foot in it. Anyone with any sense uses Surbiton Station. mikenm
  • Score: 1

10:07am Sun 1 Jun 14

helen59 says...

ever heard of a postal vote???
ever heard of a postal vote??? helen59
  • Score: 3

1:11pm Tue 3 Jun 14

bellboy007 says...

The last sentence in the article is key. He was offered assistance - but most probably chose not to take it and was more interested in being outraged, disempowered, disenchanted and disaffected (a lot of dissing going on there) and getting a story in the paper. Sure, a lot of the polling stations aren't ideal for disability access which needs looking at in the future but if the gentlement truly wanted to exercise his democratic right he would have taken the help, or, as others have mentioned done the postal vote.
The last sentence in the article is key. He was offered assistance - but most probably chose not to take it and was more interested in being outraged, disempowered, disenchanted and disaffected (a lot of dissing going on there) and getting a story in the paper. Sure, a lot of the polling stations aren't ideal for disability access which needs looking at in the future but if the gentlement truly wanted to exercise his democratic right he would have taken the help, or, as others have mentioned done the postal vote. bellboy007
  • Score: 3

2:11pm Tue 3 Jun 14

alroutemaster says...

IanGeorge wrote:
This simply can't be allowed to happen again.
So what do you suggest? Making every polling station in the UK "accessible", like our London buses were in 2005 so one wheelchair a year could access them......we ended up with 5 " baby buggies" (more like 4x4s) every day and no other passengers can get on or sit down.
[quote][p][bold]IanGeorge[/bold] wrote: This simply can't be allowed to happen again.[/p][/quote]So what do you suggest? Making every polling station in the UK "accessible", like our London buses were in 2005 so one wheelchair a year could access them......we ended up with 5 " baby buggies" (more like 4x4s) every day and no other passengers can get on or sit down. alroutemaster
  • Score: 3

7:43pm Tue 3 Jun 14

arnie12 says...

Can I just point out that disabled people are not a race, so therefore peoples' comments cannot be deemed racist. Choose your words carefully. It seems you cannot say anything about anyone without it being racist. This is wrong. My mother is disabled; she is not a race ... her legs just don't work thank you. By the same token and from first hand experience since I am her carer, the whole Country's older buildings cannot always be adapted and a little tolerance and acceptance needs to be adopted here as the report says the man was offered help. I would imagine that last time he voted, since he was able bodied, he didn't feel the need to tick the postal vote box, but I did a few years ago and I am in good health. Frankly, it's just easier and saves a trip to somewhere that may not always be convenient to visit on polling days. Everyone has the opportunity to do this now, not just disabled people, so utilise it and your right to vote. I'm quite sure the man felt affronted and disappointed, but it didn't really warrant contacting the local paper. There are far more important things going on than this. I deal with ignorance on a daily basis from people who think it's okay to park in disabled bays and then threaten me and swear at me when I tell them they're wrong. It's life now unfortunately due to a total breakdown in society and some peoples' belief that aggression and violence will get them what they want. Let's look at the bigger picture and try to move on.
Can I just point out that disabled people are not a race, so therefore peoples' comments cannot be deemed racist. Choose your words carefully. It seems you cannot say anything about anyone without it being racist. This is wrong. My mother is disabled; she is not a race ... her legs just don't work thank you. By the same token and from first hand experience since I am her carer, the whole Country's older buildings cannot always be adapted and a little tolerance and acceptance needs to be adopted here as the report says the man was offered help. I would imagine that last time he voted, since he was able bodied, he didn't feel the need to tick the postal vote box, but I did a few years ago and I am in good health. Frankly, it's just easier and saves a trip to somewhere that may not always be convenient to visit on polling days. Everyone has the opportunity to do this now, not just disabled people, so utilise it and your right to vote. I'm quite sure the man felt affronted and disappointed, but it didn't really warrant contacting the local paper. There are far more important things going on than this. I deal with ignorance on a daily basis from people who think it's okay to park in disabled bays and then threaten me and swear at me when I tell them they're wrong. It's life now unfortunately due to a total breakdown in society and some peoples' belief that aggression and violence will get them what they want. Let's look at the bigger picture and try to move on. arnie12
  • Score: 7

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