Voter ID trials ‘unnecessary and overbearing’

New figures on electoral fraud show the tiny scale of the problem – and raise major questions about overbearing ID restrictions to be trialled at elections this May, leading campaigners argue today.

The analysis by the Electoral Commission of votes conducted in 2017 revealed there were just 28 allegations of ‘personation’ in polling stations – where someone is accused of assuming another’s identity to cast a vote.

Just one of these allegations resulted in a prosecution – out of nearly 45 million votes cast in total throughout 2017.

Despite the tiny scale of the problem, the government is requiring voters in five areas, namely Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Woking and Watford, to have ID with them when they attend a polling station for local elections in May.

The Electoral Reform Society is arguing for the government to reconsider its trials and instead look at other means of improving the electoral process – including better training and funding of Electoral Registration Officers and police on election day.

Figures from the Electoral Commission show that 3.5 million people (7.5% of the electorate) in Great Britain do not have access to any form of photo ID, while 11 million electors (24% of the electorate) do not have access to a passport or photographic driving license.

 

Overbearing

Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: “These latest figures show just how over-bearing the government’s voter ID plans really are.

“The number of alleged cases of electoral fraud involving impersonation is actually falling – and yet the government are intent on testing this draconian measure which risks excluding many legitimate voters from our democracy.

“This will create an additional and significant barrier to legitimate voters – including the millions who do not have any form of photographic ID.

“There are real unintended consequences to this – those voters who attend the polling station straight from the gym or the office, and who simply forgot to bring their ID with them will be denied their right to vote. This is heavy-handed and, as we’ve now seen, totally unnecessary.

“The government is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. They need to seriously reconsider their plans to put more barriers in the way of voters – and instead back properly funding and training EROs and police for our elections.”

Related reading