The Tories’ Elections Bill aims to introduce mandatory voter ID. Curtis Daly explains how this could disenfranchise many of the most marginalised people.
House of Commons has passed the ‘Elections Bill’ – now in the House of Lords – in which voter ID is mandated for elections. This is another assault on our democracy. Here’s why…
On Monday evening, MPs voted in favour of the Elections Bill by 325 to 234. Within the bill, the government mandates the use of photo ID in order to vote in elections.
This could not be any clearer of an example of voter suppression. Let me break it down for you.
This is a tactic taken from the US for the government to cling to power – one that the Republican party pushed for decades. Many US states currently require photo ID to vote. However, Republicans want to go further.
Since 2013, Southern States have cut 1,200 polling stations with the help of the Supreme Court which weakened a voting-discrimination law.
The Civil and Human Rights conference found “that states with a history of racial discrimination have shuttered hundreds of voting locations since the court ruled that they did not need federal approval to change their laws.”
Here we can see a picture forming. Voter ID laws affect those who are on lower incomes, or part of a minority group.
Why do this? Simply put, higher turnout affects the Conservatives negatively, and those from a lower socioeconomic background are more likely to vote for Labour.
But how does voter ID affect those who are poorer you ask?
Passports cost money, driving licenses cost money. For many there are those who can’t afford holidays abroad so why would they have a passport? Driving is expensive, factor in learning to drive, buying and maintaining a car, and of course the ridiculous cost of insurance.
It’s another case of more democracy for those with more money.
People with a disability, those who are unemployed, a new voter, or those without qualifications are less likely to have any form of ID.
The FCA financial life survey report from 2020 found that 4% of those from a BAME background don’t have a bank account, compared to 2% of those people from a white UK background.
So as we can see, the more marginalized you are, the less participation you would have under UK democracy when these ID laws come to fruition.
The government has claimed that they would issue free voter ID cards. The issue we found ourselves in is that the government would need to successfully issue one to every single person in this country, that is not guaranteed. This means that people may still have to pay for traditional forms of ID.
It is still another barrier to voting, and something that is not necessary.
How can the government justify themselves? In the same way the US does. Voter fraud. I’m not gonna beat around the bush, the excuse of voter fraud is a load of baloney.
In the 2019 general election, voter fraud is virtually non-existent with only 33 allegations. That’s 33 out of 58 million votes. Voter fraud makes absolutely zero difference to election outcomes.
What’s more, these plans are set to cost a whopping £40m over a decade, or £20 million per election if you will.
It’s money worth spending for the Tories if the working class, the poor, and minorities are shut out of elections, solidifying their grip on power.
If they cared about democracy, why would they not extend the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds rather than actively voting against it? Unsurprisingly, the young don’t vote Tory.
At its heart this is a civil liberties issue. In a society in which wealth and power grants you more access and democracy is fading away, the last thing we should be doing is adding more barriers for voters.
The threat to our democracy is not the tiny handful of people who attempt to engage in voter fraud; it is the capture of our elected representatives by businesses and the super rich, who buy their way to access our ministers and government contracts
Money knows no bounds, and this is another way of disenfranchisement, of smashing up what little democracy we have left.
We need to resist this, and if we work together we can.
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