Electoral fraud figures 'show voter ID trials to be unnecessary and overbearing’

By agency reporter
March 3, 2018

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

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 to have ID with them when they attend a polling station for local elections in May.

The Electoral Reform Society are 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 per cent of the electorate) in Great Britain do not have access to any form of photo ID, while 11 million electors (24 per cent of the electorate) do not have access to a passport or photographic driving license.

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.”

Bromley, Gosport and Woking are piloting the post restrictive forms of ID, which includes either one piece of photo ID, such as passport and drivers licenses, or several pieces on non-photo ID, such as utility bills and council tax bills. Those without the necessary ID must obtain a certificate of identity and/or local election card. Applications require proof of identification and an attestation in writing from a person of good standing in the community.

Swindon and Watford are piloting poll cards, which is moderately restrictive. If a voter loses their poll card they can request for a replacement poll card. Those who forget to bring it to the polling station must present another form of ID.

Those without the necessary ID will not be allowed to vote and will be turned away at the polling stations.

* Electoral Reform Society https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/

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