Report on voter ID trials leaves huge questions unanswered, says ERS

By agency reporter
July 21, 2018

A new report published by the Electoral Commission has concluded that “there is not yet enough evidence to fully address concerns and answer questions about the impact of identification requirements on voters.”

The government are now planning yet more trials of the scheme, which the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has branded undemocratic. 

The Electoral Commission added that the participating councils – those in Bromley, Woking, Gosport, Swindon and Watford – “were not sufficiently varied” to be representative of the varying demographics across the UK.

The Electoral Commission also noted that it was unable to conclude how Voter ID would operate in General Elections, where the turnout is much higher than local elections.

Jessica Garland, Director of Research at the Electoral Reform Society, said: “The Electoral Commission’s report tells us what we knew to be the case: these trials have totally failed to allay concerns that innocent voters would be denied a say if this policy were rolled out for national elections.

“The report rightly notes that the trials all happened in similar areas in the south of England. As a result, they categorically failed to show that already marginalised groups would not be disenfranchised, raising real concerns for political equality.

“And the trials provided little insight into the impact voter ID might have in General Elections – in which turnout would be substantially higher and a much broader range of people would want to participate.

“This experiment must not be a fait accompli for a UK roll-out. The policy risks being a dangerous distraction from the pressing issues our democracy faces – from our outdated campaign regulations to a broken voting system.

“What this report cannot tell us is why the government is pursuing this policy above all others – when Britain has real democratic problems to be addressed. The public say the ‘need’ for voter ID is the least of Britain’s concerns when it comes to democracy.

“Ministers should concentrate on fixing Westminster’s crumbling politics rather than making it harder to vote.”

* Read May 2018 voter identification pilot schemes Findings and recommendations here

* Electoral Reform Society


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