The Electoral Commission (EC) estimates that 14,000 people were turned away from May’s local elections because they did not have the required ID.
I feel the true figure is likely to be much higher as most local authorities did not record the number. Young people and marginalised groups were particularly badly affected. The MPs’ report calls the policy a “poisoned cure” that “disenfranchises more people than it protects”. This is shocking but is what critics of the scheme predicted.
The measures were introduced allegedly to counter voter fraud, which is a non-existent problem in this country, and the types of acceptable ID were restricted in such a way as to disadvantage those groups least likely to vote Tory.
The EC proposes modifications to the scheme, including reviewing the list of accepted ID and allowing voters to vouch for someone without ID.
The Government claims to be looking for “any areas of improvement” but is refusing to engage directly with the EC.
If the scheme continues in its current form, the EC estimates that at the next general election hundreds of thousands of people could be denied the right to vote. In a constituency like High Peak, historically a marginal, this could change the outcome.
I hope Robert Largan MP shares my concern over this blatant attack on our democracy and will make urgent representations to his government to press for the necessary changes.
Jane Barrett, Buxton, Letters Page, Buxton Advertiser, 21 September 2023