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PM urged to ditch voter ID plans branded ‘Trumpian’ and ‘undemocratic’ by critics

Written by on 05/07/2021

Plans to force voters to show identification before casting their ballots at elections have been branded “undemocratic” by critics.

The Elections Bill is being introduced to parliament on Monday, but it is feared it could lead to millions of people finding it difficult to vote.

Senior Conservatives, civil society groups and Labour have called for a rethink on the scheme which could “cost millions of pounds at every election” if implemented, it is claimed.

Critics have said the plans could lead to millions of people finding it more difficult to cast their vote
Image: Officials say ID is already required to vote in Northern Ireland and other countries such as Canada and France

Labour said the move was “undemocratic” and urged Boris Johnson and his government to drop what it described as “Trumpian” plans.

The former Tory Brexit secretary, David Davis, told The Independent there was “no evidence” of voter fraud and it was an “illiberal solution in pursuit of a non-existent problem”.

The government is facing a Supreme Court challenge over their voter ID pilots – a case Labour said will not be heard until January.

Labour warned it means the government could be forcing a potentially unlawful policy through parliament.

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Shadow democracy minister Cat Smith accused the Tories of attempting to use the “cover of the pandemic to threaten British democracy” and called for the plans to be stopped.

“Voter ID is a total waste of taxpayers’ money, set to cost millions of pounds at every election, and yet the government apparently can’t afford to give our nurses a pay rise,” said Ms Smith.

“Voting is safe and secure in Britain. Ministers should be promoting confidence in our elections instead of spreading baseless scare stories which threaten our democracy – this Trumpian tactic has no place in our democracy.”

The Labour MP said the proposals would “make it harder” for working class, older and ethnic minority Britons to vote due to not having the correct identification.

Acceptable forms of ID have not yet been set out but a free council-issued “local voter card” will be available, Downing Street has said.

Conservative MP David Davis has criticised the plans by the government
Image: Conservative MP David Davis has criticised the government plans, saying there is ‘no evidence’ of voter fraud

At the 2019 general election, 595 cases of alleged electoral fraud were investigated by police, according to the Electoral Commission.

Four led to a conviction and two people were given a police caution, and the Commission said: “The UK has low levels of proven electoral fraud.”

Representatives from organisations including the Electoral Reform Society, Stonewall, Liberty, Operation Black Vote and the National Union of Students have called for a rethink of the voter ID scheme.

They said the plans could cost £20m per general election and 3.5 million people currently lack photographic ID.

Officials have pointed out ID is already required to vote in Northern Ireland as well as countries such as Canada, France, the Netherlands and Sweden.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “Everyone eligible to vote will be able to do so – voters in Northern Ireland have been using photo identification since 2003 with no adverse effect on participation and a free, local voter card will be available to those who need it.”

 Sky News

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