Voting on election day if you stammer

A sign saying 'Polling station' attached to railings

Don't let worries about stammering stop you from voting this election day.

Are you worried about having to speak to staff at your local polling station? 

In many cases you might not need to speak — the person at the desk might just ask to see your polling card. In some places, however, they might ask you to say your address, postcode or name. Which can be really tricky if you stammer.

People are generally friendly and welcoming in these scenarios. The Electoral Commission recognises that some people face barriers when voting, and they give accessibility guidance to its officers. So hopefully they will be well aware of differing needs. Every voter should be given the time they need. 

One way of looking at it is to see it as an opportunity to help you build confidence saying your name or practising a technique.

Other options

If you are really worried about being unable to verbally confirm your identity, here are some options:

Postal voting

You can apply to vote by post instead of voting in-person for general, local and other elections. See the 'Apply for a postal vote' page on the website. Make sure you apply well in advance of the election date.

Letting polling station staff know you stammer

Indicating to the staff member that you stammer and need more time to speak will help them understand your needs. That's if you feel comfortable doing it. If you are able to say it, tell them at the start.

Or you could show them one of our 'I Stammer' cards, which you can download to your device. The wording on these cards lets people know that you stammer and need more time.

Alternatively, before leaving home, wrote a note saying that you stammer and would like them to read out your details. Give this note to the staff together with your polling card, and they will read out your name and address. You can then confirm these details with a simple "Yes" or by nodding your head.

Bring someone with you

You could bring a family member or friend with you to give staff your name and address. You can then confirm your details with a simple "Yes" or nod of the head.

Email or phone in advance

You could contact the Returning Officer by email or phone the day before election day. Explain that you will be voting and that you stammer. Or you could ask someone to phone for you. If it's done in time, the Returning Officer will then brief the polling station staff before you arrive. 

Find the contact details of your local Returning Officer at Note: in many places you will need to do this before voting day.

Final words

We know how the fear of stammering can stop you from doing lots of things, like speaking in public. But try not to let it stop you from exercising this important right. If you would like to chat with someone on our helpline about it, you're most welcome to do so. Call us free on 0808 802 0002. Lines are open 10am-2pm and 4pm-8pm.

If you are unlucky enough to have a bad experience on the day, let us know. If you don't feel that your needs have been met, or if staff react negatively to your stammer, tell us. Fill out the form on our Advocacy Service page. We'll look into challenging it so that it won't happen to others in the future.

Cast your vote and let your voice be heard!

Two women in running outfits holding flags and looking at the camera
Tayo & Bhupinder
A speaker on stage at STAMMAFest 2023

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