Ex Green Party leader nails the real scandal behind the thousands prevented from voting

Natalie Bennett and a sign outside a Polling Station.
Andrea Needham

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:

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Wrong ID

There were numerous stories of people who had been turned away. In some cases, people had ID, but it was not considered the correct form:

“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%.

“Draconian”

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:

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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Featured image via Wikimedia/EdinburghGreens and  Wikimedia/secretlondon123/

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