Spain's intellectually disabled secure the right to vote

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By Carlos Marlasca
Spain's intellectually disabled secure the right to vote

Eduardo Sanchez has been working at the Gil Gayarre Foundation, a centre specializing in special education, for the last five years. He's participated in their occupational workshops since he was a child.

In spite of his abilities, in the late 1990s a judge ruled that he couldn't vote, after his family asked for parental authority to give him greater protection.

Now he's one of 100,000 people with intellectual disabilities who will be able to vote after congress approved changes to the electoral law.

"I felt like a freak," Mr Sanchez told Euronews. "Last year I (was) sad....This year, voting, I get the monkey off my back, I can now vote. I'm a normal person...I’m at ease.."

Antonio Hinojosa is a coordinator for the 'My Vote Counts' campaign, which advocates for people with intellectual disabilities to get the right to vote. They've been making progress but people still face many difficulties, Mr Hinojosa explains: 

"Difficulties, for example, to find your ballot, also difficulties in finding your polling station, getting directions from your house to your polling station -- and on top of that, not everywhere is accessible. Voting for the first time is a very important historical achievement for this country. There are only eight countries in Europe that give people with intellectual disabilities the right to vote."

Today, Eduardo cast his vote. He did it with a smile, having recovered a right that allows him to be part of democracy as just another citizen.