Calls grow for MPs to launch an inquiry into ‘failing’ voter ID implementation

“We’ve long warned of the potential impact of voter ID – a policy that will make it harder for millions to cast their vote and potentially shut many out from the ballot box. But if the government insist on introducing this damaging policy it must be done right."

Voting Ballot Box

Campaigners have called on MPs to launch an inquiry into the manner in which voter ID is being implemented, after experts expressed doubts over the deliverability of the policy.

The government pushed ahead with its plans for voter ID which will be rolled out during UK elections from May 2023, despite concerns being raised by electoral reform and democracy campaigners that it could result in millions being disenfranchised.

The government has insisted that the introduction of voter ID is required to combat in-person voter fraud, despite little evidence of such fraud taking place. There were only six known cases of voter fraud at the last election, a fact admitted to in May last year by former health secretary Matt Hancock.

The types of ID accepted include passports, driving licences and blue badge cards, yet according to a UK-wide study commissioned by the Cabinet Office, more than 2 million people lack the necessary ID to take part in UK elections. 

Now Electoral Reform Society, Unlock Democracy and Hands Off Our Vote have written to Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee Chair William Wragg MP, calling on the Committee to launch an inquiry into Voter ID which is set to apply to UK elections from May 2023.

The groups cite various electoral administrators, experts and even the government’s own Infrastructure and Projects Authority has coded the Act’s implementation red, noting the “Successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable.”

Just last month an event of over 700 electoral professionals held by the Association of Electoral Administrators on behalf of the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said they are still not confident Voter ID can be delivered as currently planned, to the quality voters deserve.

Dr Jess Garland, Director of Policy and Research, at the Electoral Reform Society said: “We’ve long warned of the potential impact of voter ID – a policy that will make it harder for millions to cast their vote and potentially shut many out from the ballot box. But if the government insist on introducing this damaging policy it must be done right.

“Up and down the country electoral administrators are already thinking ahead towards next year’s elections but doing so without the certainty of knowing what’s required of them when it comes to voter ID.

“The delays to important legislation key to the successful implementation of voter ID mean that, as these elections approach, it’s becoming less certain that every eligible voter will be able to cast their ballot. We need an urgent enquiry into voter ID and if delays continue for the government to take stock and hit pause before it’s too late.”

The latest intervention comes after it was revealed that councils will be required to purchase 40,000 mirrors and privacy screens – at an estimated cost of £1.3m for polling stations as part of the scheme – allowing people in religious headgear or face coverings to have their identity checked away from public view.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

As you’re here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to chip in to help us survive. We deliver progressive, independent media, that challenges the right’s hateful rhetoric. Together we can find the stories that get lost.

We’re not bankrolled by billionaire donors, but rely on readers chipping in whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do isn’t free, and we run on a shoestring. Can you help by chipping in as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can donate, we’re so grateful - and we will ensure your money goes as far as possible to deliver hard-hitting news.

Comments are closed.