We've Got a Voice

Updated: January 2016

This video was released by the Electoral Commission New Zealand in October 2014 to encourage citizens with learning disabilities to vote. It follows the stories of six different people with learning disabilities throughout the voting process, from registration to Election Day, and ends with the participants encouraging all people to vote, especially those with a disability.




Woman (Rachel): I don't want you to be lazy. I want you to get off the couch and vote. I'm never ever ever bossy. Not in my whole entire life. But you have to vote. My name's Rachael. I'm at Human Movements Fitness Centre doing a little workout. Monday I do a workout, go back to day base. Tuesday is work. And then Thursday's cleaning. I'm not safe with people calling me names, like calling me fatso and that. And I don't think that's the right thing for people to do that to me, cos I feel really happy with the way I look.

Man (Paul): (joking tone) This is my house, my rules. That's the front door there. You can go. My name's Paul. I'm going to show you through my flat. This is upstairs going to my bedroom. This is what I got this year for my birthday. My sister gave me, she knows I like my dragons. And this is my view what you can see when I get up in the mornings. I like my freedom. No one to tell me what to do in my house. And I think it is my home. Not people saying, oh you can't live all on your own. This is my kitchen, my pride and joy. I love my cooking. I do art and painting. This is one of my paintings. That's Dad's and that's Mum's mountain. They're going to have little trees and like grandparents and grandkids and stuff like that. And that is how I see life. And sometimes I do sunsets.

Woman (Ruby): This is Pumpkin here (points to rabbit) and over there is Biscuit (other rabbit). Hi, I'm Ruby. I'm almost 21. And we're in Palmerston North. There's two cats and five flatmates including me at my house. (Visiting animal sanctuary) Me coming here makes me feel happy, and I can see they are being well looked after. (petting pigs) I hope they are going to be pets, and not used for tea. Instead of me having a real baby, I would have a fur baby instead. I can leave him at home and not have to take him everywhere. My cat Van Morrison responds to me when I call him. He comes running and he knows it's his dinner time. This is Van Morrison.

Man (Duncan): In the early days, back in Creche, I couldn't talk. And I couldn't learn sign language. I had jaundice and my parents said I couldn't survive. But I did survive, and then the doctors told my parents I had a disability. They had a shock. My name is Duncan Armstrong. I've got Down syndrome. People, they exclude me because I have Down syndrome and have a disability. That's where people excluded me, at Creche and everywhere else. For me I got confused and angry and sad about it. And I got past it. So I got past it, but I got past it by music.

Announcer speaking into mic: We're going to now have a bit of a party. You can see I'm standing with a band, "Mr. Handsome". The band is going to be playing.

Duncan: Music to me is like being free, and being free to...

Announcer: Duncan and a few other members of the band are going to be playing and we're going to look forward to that.

Woman (Caroline): My name is Caroline Quick. I've got a disability myself but that never stops me of what I do. I'm from England, south west near Bristol. I didn't see any people with a disability apart from one. New Zealand has a lot more communities with people with disabilities. It's my first time interacting with people with disabilities. Since I've moved over here, it has made me a lot more confident and independent and I can speak up for my rights.      

Paul: I like the fresh air. If I need a bus, I'll catch it if it's raining. There's Norm, one of my old staff members. Hi Norm. We'll go to the bus stop and I'll show you why I don't like it. I wish they could cater for people who can't read and write. (looks up at announcement board). It's all wiggly cos I don't know. Can't work out the times and stuff. I wish they had a button you push and says bus in 5 minutes. Or bus in 20 minutes. Like in a restaurant, they don't have pictures next to it. (looks at a restaurant menu) There's too much writing and it's too hard for me. Cos I've got to get my support person to read the menu, or my staff to read the menu, or my mum or nana.      

Ruby: If humans have rights, if the government say you have rights, animals should have rights too. They're all the same. Except they're humans and they're animals, they're furry and they're not. Animals are furry and humans are not.

Duncan: My dream job is to be a paid recording artist. I need more skills. The government supports me because they pay for your teachers and pay for your education. If you didn't have an education, I mean I'd be nowhere. I'd have nothing.

Rachel: The government pays for the support staff and the day base.

Woman at the day base: (walks around) Would you like to open that? (points to DVD case) This DVD for the general election...We're still having problems opening up the casing. I think we need some scissors (group laughs).  

Older man in a house, with Duncan: (points to computer) Shall we watch the DVD?

Woman in office with Paul: So you want to have a look at the DVD too? Ok.

Woman sitting on couch in flat: Sarah, do you want to watch this DVD about how we vote? About who we want to run our government?

Caroline, sitting on stone steps: I'm really excited. Behind me is the New Zealand government. People meet to make up the laws and then they have a meeting with the Prime Minister in the Beehive and talk about the laws that we put in place for New Zealand. I've been in there myself and it is pretty awesome. (walks in large room) We are in the room where they argue. Me being in this room makes me feel happy. It makes me think that I'm one of them, one of the government. You need to vote on who you want. To use that vote is very valuable so the government can hear you, on what you want and what they need to do to keep New Zealand running.  

Paul: My first time is going to be this year to vote. I think I am proud of myself. I'm on the electoral roll.     

Duncan: You've got to be enrolled first, then you can vote.

Ruby: You have to enroll, you have to be 18 and over to vote.    

Woman sitting on armchair, talking to Ruby: Are you over 18?

Ruby: Yes, I'm 18 years old. Well I'm definitely over 18 cos I'm almost 21. I'll be 21 in August. I'm definitely a grown up now. I'm not a little girl anymore, like my parents think I am.

Paul: The voting thing, I am an adult and I can choose what I want to do with my life. Not people to tell me. We're saying yes, we've got a voice. You can hear us. I'm a normal person. I'm part of, you know, the neighborhood. I'm part of the people around me. We need to be treated like a normal person in the street. And I think that's what voting is.  

Older man, sitting at table: So you're enrolled to vote, Duncan?

Duncan: Yes.

Older man: Do you remember getting your confirmation in the mail?

Duncan: Yes, I do remember that.

Older man: So you're on the electoral roll, which means you can vote.

Woman at day base: So what I'm going to do is hand out an application form. We're going to fill it out. I'll show you how to fill it out.

Ruby: You have to fill out a piece of paper with your name, you open it.

Woman on couch: You need to put him down.

Ruby: (holding cat) I'm getting attacked by Van Morrison. So, you've got your name, your address...

Woman at day base: Have you lived here for the last month? (man nods)

Rachel: (in the day base, asking the man next to her) Are you still in the same house?

Man: In Rewa Street...

Paul: We're trying to do it online.

Woman in the office: (asking Paul) Can you see the one that says "enroll"?

Paul: Try that one.

Woman at day base: And what's your date of birth, Andrew?

Rachel: My date of birth is...

Andrew: (responding to woman at day base) I was born in 1968.

Man: 1962

Woman with Ruby: Your occupation is? You work part time?

Ruby: And then I just sign it there.

Woman at day base: (to Rachael) That's right. Sign and date it there. (Rachael signs)

Woman at day base: (to man) Sign this for me. And what's today's date? Seven, one, four...

Paul: (to woman in office) I'm on the electoral roll, and that's all correct and I don't need to fill out any more forms. That's the first time I've seen, you know, my name on the election roll. Normally, some people say, why don't you vote? I say I can't read and write. Frankie said try and do it this year. Maybe have a voice for yourself.   

Woman: (to Ruby) That's all we have to do. There you go, then we just post it.

Man #1 at day base: I feel happy.

Man #2 at day base: Happy I did this.

Man #1: I've never voted before.

Paul: It's a big step. First big step. I'm part of everyone in this city. I'm part of the team and showing people I can vote.  

Woman: (to Ruby) So that's the election plan.

Woman: (to Paul, showing a pamphlet with photos) We've got the first thing here that would be important to remember. (points) Date. Yep, so it's important to remember which day it is.

Older man: When is it?

Duncan: September 20.

Older man: That's right. What day of the week is it?

Woman in office: (looks up a calendar, responds to Paul) A Saturday. So what do you usually do on Saturdays? 

Paul: Walk.    

Woman in office: You do, yep.

Paul: 2, is that right?

Woman in office: Yep, and the time.

Older man: (to Duncan) So it might be good to go in the morning. First thing? 

Duncan: Yeah. First thing. 

Older man: First thing. So we'll go early in the morning. You'll have to be up and out of bed, though.

Duncan: Dad! Do you know where we will go to vote?

Older man: It's probably going to be in St Anne's Hall.

Duncan: Is there where it was last time?

Older man: Yes it was.

Woman in office: (to Paul) So there's lots of different areas around town.

Paul: I don't know where I will be yet?

Woman in office: So we might have to have a look.

Woman at day base: The base here will be a polling booth. So you can come along here.

Paul: So the support person, that will probably be Colleen.

Duncan: You can actually bring someone for your support.

Older man: (to Duncan) You'll probably go up with me, maybe your Mum.

Duncan: Not Mum.

Older man: Why not?

Rachel: Getting the staff to go over the voting paper with me so I can understand what they help me with.

Woman in office(to Paul) If you need help you can ask for help.

Paul: Like your staff support.

Woman in office: Exactly, get your staff to make sure that you're going to leave at the right time.

Woman: (to Ruby) How are you going to get there? We'll take you there in the van.

Woman at day base: So you need to talk to your staff to make a plan on whether they're going to transport you. Or if we have to walk.

Woman in office: (to Paul) How are you going to get there?

Paul: Walk.

Woman in office: You walk everywhere, perfect.

Older man: (to Duncan) How would you find out more about candidates and their policies?

Duncan: Look it up.

Older man: Where?

Duncan: On the internet.

Woman at day base: Listen to the TV and listen to the news.

Ruby: Ask my Mum.

Paul: Talk to your staff. Or talk to a friend.

Older man: (to Duncan) Go to a candidate's meeting.

Duncan: Yes we could, that's a good idea.

Paul: Talk to people about it.

Duncan: I haven't been there.

Older man: You haven't been to a candidate's meeting?

Duncan: (shaking his head) No.

Older man: Ok, that could be interesting to do one of those.

Paul: If you see a politician, shake his hand and ask him if he has five minutes to talk to you.

Older man: (to Duncan) Have you got somewhere you can put this?

Duncan: (shakes his head) No. Oh, yes I do, in my bedroom.

Older man: Whereabouts?

Duncan: On the board. (pins it up on a board) That's good, that's done. Cool.

Older man: What are some of the things that you're concerned about that you'd like the government to help with?

Duncan: Education. That's why I didn't do it. That's why I can't do it. But I can.

Older man: They thought you wouldn't be able to do more study.

Duncan: I couldn't go to the course because they thought...they think I'm a child. They tried to help me but they didn't know how to work with me. I think the government should pay for more staffing for education.     

Ruby: The most important thing for me would probably have to be my friends and family and my animals. Whoever likes animals, I would vote for them, but if they don't like animals, I will vote for someone else. 

Woman at day base: What the government can do for you, what you would like to do and to have access to?

Rachel: Living life normally. Doing the things I enjoy. Except for medical and your doctors and your health and that.    

Woman at day base: Do you feel that having a day base gets you out into the community more, and you're able to do more things? (Rachael nods

Man at day base: I like being with people.

Woman at day base: Voting matters.

Caroline: It will make a huge difference. By recognizing people with disabilities, it could change their lives.

Paul: I get a benefit. If I didn't, I would be on the street. I don't want to be on the street. I want to be in a house. I don't want to be like Joe Bloggs in the street saying, "Can you give me some money? Have you got any spare change?" I need a little bit of help, not a lot because I can be independent myself. To me, it's really good to be independent because I can do things I want to do.    

Duncan: (speaks into mic) Everyone. Me and my dad on the guitar. I'm on the drums.

Paul: (runs on basketball court) This is like flying with no wings. And you've got no wings, you can fly. I enjoy it. I feel like I am part of the neighborhood. Part of the team. Part of this area we practice. I want to be a normal Joe Bloggs. I think we're normal people.     

Woman at day base: Would everyone here like to vote? (Rachael nods) Yep. Would you like to vote, Tim? Andrew, would you like to vote?

Andrew: Yes.

Woman at day base: Karen?

(Various participants' voices overlap) Yes. I would vote.

Caroline: You've got a right to have a voice. You've got a right to have dignity. You've got the right to be treated with respect.

Duncan: It matters to me because it's having a say. You can have your say. If you don't have your say, you can be excluded.

Ruby: Get up, have a shower, have your coffee, you go down and vote. You walk in the door. You have to say who you are and where you live.

Older man: (to Duncan) So we'll get the mail, get the easy vote card. There's a card, isn't there, to make it quicker to vote? Easy vote. 

Poll worker: You've got an easy vote card. Can you confirm that you are Helda...? (woman nods)

Woman: (to Ruby) You do into a little cubicle. And it's private. No one else can see you vote.

Caroline: You tick one side for a party and you also tick the other side for your local MP. You get a pen anyway so that will be useful. 

Ruby: It's about you and the people around you. When you're voting it's about you. I have to choose.

Duncan: If it is difficult then you can ask for help. Of if you can't write, they can do it for you.

Woman at registration table: Can I help her with that (nodding towards woman next to her)

Poll worker: Absolutely, you can go with her behind the screen and give her any support she needs.

Woman: Can you read it?

Support staff #1: You want me to read it?

Support staff #2: You choose. You point to which one you want.

Paul: You're free to choose who you want to see in government.

Support staff #3: I'm going to read you all of these and you can tell me which one you want...but you can do that.

Voter: But at least they can help you, so that was good.

Duncan: It can be scary, but you've got to do it to have your say. 

Paul: Life's like a pack of cards. If you've got some bad hand, you can throw it out and build on to it. That's how I see life. And I think people want to do that, chuck out all the bad and rebuild on to it.   

Ruby: If I can do it, you can do it. Because we're all individuals, but we might just suffer a little bit more troubles in our lives. That doesn't matter, we can still do it.   

Caroline: Get out of your comfy spot and do your vote. I think you need to do it. When I first dropped it in the box, I felt really happy and confident. It felt awesome, really awesome. And it made me think that I really want to be part of the government one day. Follow your dreams and aspirations. (sits behind a desk with "Prime Minister" label on it) I'm the Prime Minister. How you doing?   


-- End of transcript --