In each of the 27 EU countries, there are laws or organisational arrangements which exclude some voters with disabilities from participating in EP elections.
About 800 000 EU citizens from 16 Member States are, on account of national rules, deprived of the right to participate in EP elections because of their disabilities or mental health problems. The extent of this phenomenon is very uneven across individual countries.
Millions of EU citizens have no possibility to vote because of organisational arrangements (technical barriers) which do not take into account the needs resulting from their disability.
Another factor preventing people from voting independently or discouraging them from doing so are specific rules and organisational arrangements – such as the absence of information adapted to different types of disability, obstacles to mobility in the polling station itself and burdensome administrative procedures – governing how voters can exercise their right to vote in an appropriately adapted form.
If the best practices from across all countries were implemented, an ideal system would emerge in which every EU citizen with disabilities not only would have the full possibility to vote but also would be able to choose for themselves the most convenient way in which to vote.
Current EU legislation already addresses a number of issues concerning EP elections. Thus, there are no formal obstacles to this legislation also including guarantees on voting options for persons with disabilities. In any case, however, there is a need for a formal EP legislative initiative and for it to be approved subsequently by all Member States.