UK will need photo ID to vote – ‘unfair and deliberate’
A new law being announced in Parliament on Tuesday is set to cause controversy. People across the UK will need a photo ID to be able to vote. The proposal is part of the Queen’s Speech.
The law could mean millions of people are unable to vote as some groups – the poor and the young – may not have photo IDs.
Those who don’t have a passport or driving license will be able to apply for a voting ID card.
The plans are being condemned by many groups, including those representing the elderly and LGBT communities. The government plans are reported to “ensure electoral integrity by introducing voter ID.”
The Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith says introducing voter ID could come alongside changes to postal vote and moves to equalise constituencies.
The head of the Electoral Reform Society said the proposals will “disproportionately hit older voters, people of colour, and those on low incomes”.
Darren Hughes said: “Experience from the US shows that when there’s no universal ID scheme, these laws unfairly – and often deliberately – lock millions out of the ballot box, skewing the system and deepening political inequalities. We must not import US-style voter suppression to the UK.
“Rather than pulling up the drawbridge to large groups of voters, ministers should deal with bringing in the nine million people who are missing from the electoral register, and the dangerous loopholes in our analogue-age election laws.
“Given the huge potential for disenfranchisement, it is deeply worrying that ministers see imposing voter ID as a priority – rather than reforming Westminster’s warped voting system or unelected House of Lords.”
He added: “When it comes to Britain’s democratic crisis, this isn’t just fiddling while Rome burns – it’s pouring petrol on the flames. It’s vital that ministers think again before driving another wedge into our already-unequal politics.”
Dennis Reed, director of over-60s group Silver Voices, told Byline: “We fear this is a ‘Trumpian’ manoeuvre to limit voting by those who are not natural Government supporters – ie the most deprived members of communities, including senior citizens in poverty.”
Stonewall warned that many trans and non-binary people may not have ID matching their gender.
The charity added:
“LGBT people – particularly those who are working class, older, disabled, and people of colour – are more likely than the general population to live in poverty or experience homelessness, which can create significant obstacles to obtaining photo ID.”
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “Showing ID to vote is a reasonable way to combat the inexcusable potential for voter fraud in our current system and strengthen its integrity.
“There is a wealth of evidence to show that voter ID does not impact voter turnout – it’s been operating in Northern Ireland, with ease, for decades and the overwhelming majority of people cast their vote successfully in our pilots.
“We will make sure this policy works for everyone. There will be free electoral ID available locally and we continue to work with a broad range of charities and civil society organisations.
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