Thousands of would-be voters were unable to vote at the recent local elections because they failed to produce the correct ID, according to the Electoral Reform Society.
Polling stations in five council areas – Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford and Woking – ran mandatory voter ID trials during the local elections on 3 May. The Electoral Reform Society claims that almost 4,000 voters were turned away for not having the correct ID. It says this represents 1.67% of those who tried to vote.
But former Green party leader Natalie Bennett nailed a deeper scandal behind the figures:
#VoterID – a policy supported by zero evidence. Only beneficiary will be Tory Party. Vote-rigging happens through political donations, media bias & undemocratic electoral system, not in polling stations https://t.co/JBrRZAprl3
— Natalie Bennett (@natalieben) May 3, 2018
#VoterID polling station in Woking will only allow voting with photo ID local labour activist had bank card utility bill was turned away no photo ID @Dis_PPL_Protest @AnitaBellows12 @InclusionLondon @depresseddawg74 @BromleyLabourUK @angelawilkins1 @Independent
— paula peters (@paulapeters2) May 3, 2018
Just been round the C Palace polling stations. 5 people not able to vote due to #voterID pilot and several walked away because of queues @CatSmithMP @labour4bromley . So why are we doing this .@LBBromley ?
— Cllr Angela Wilkins (@angelawilkins1) May 3, 2018
Asking for ID to exercise your democratic right to vote is not about voting fraud. It's about disenfranchising the poor and vulnerable and rigging the vote for the rich and powerful. If you believe otherwise, you're part of the problem. #VoterID #ToriesOut
— Phil Hudson (@Philmsh79) May 3, 2018
“Crackdown on fraud”
The government claims that voter ID trials are part of a “crackdown on fraud”. However, the Electoral Commission found that in 2017, there was just one conviction for voter personation [pdf,p1] – that is, pretending to be someone else when voting. That year, 44.6m votes were cast in the UK, making the rate of personation fraud just 0.000063%.
Darren Hughes, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:
It is a dark day for politics when thousands of blameless people turn out to vote only to be refused…
These findings are exactly what many feared: that this draconian measure would result in blameless individuals being disenfranchised…
There have been people who have voted their entire lives but were denied that right yesterday because of these ill-thought-out trials.
There have been suggestions that the voter ID trials are aimed at removing the vote from those less likely to vote Conservative.
Labour MP David Lammy also summed up the situation:
No evidence of in-person voter fraud at polling stations. Voter ID schemes = the systematic disenfranchisement of poor people and ethnic minorities. This Jim Crow writ large and how the racists disenfranchised African Americans in the Deep South. Straight out of that playbook https://t.co/btjlaEXXe1
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) May 4, 2018
The Electoral Reform Society has described mandatory voter ID as “a solution in search of a problem”. Voter fraud is simply not an issue in the UK. As Bennett states, there are a range of far more important issues that need tackling if we’re serious about election fraud.
The government needs to bin the voter ID scheme before anyone else loses their right to vote.
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