Polly Neate’s blog in yesterday’s Huffington Post raises some important issues in relation to how, indeed, if, people, particularly women who have experienced domestic violence, have access to the political process. The opportunity, the right to vote is considered one of our fundamental human rights and when all parties are struggling to engage people in the political process we have to take a close look at why some sections are being unnecessarily excluded.
As Ms Neate’s article highlights, anonymity is a matter of life and death for many survivors of domestic violence. Very often survivors have to live with the constant fear that the perpetrator from whom they have escaped may find them. We need to ask ourselves if wanting to exercise such a basic right as being able to vote should put anyone at risk, let alone survivors of domestic violence who have already suffered hugely.
The regulations on anonymous registration to vote are surely in need of review. When we are hearing, consistently, from political commentators that so many of our fellow citizens are increasingly disconnected from our political process it seems ironic that the system itself may be responsible for compounding this for many. Voting is all about empowerment; it is about all of us feeling that we have a stake in our society and a say in how it is run, a say in its values. It is not to be taken for granted.
As Ms Neate has written elsewhere tackling domestic violence, which costs many lives every year, cannot be overcome by the criminal justice system alone. There is an imperative for a more focused, needs based assessment approach that looks beyond criminal justice; taking a fresh and constructive look at how survivors of domestic violence can have fair and free access to our democratic process is surely not a bad place to start.
See Ms Neate’s full blog here- http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/polly-neate/domestic-abuse-can-deny-women-their-vote_b_7094942.html