Over 2 Million Voters May Not Have Photo ID Required Under New UK Bill

0
21
Over 2 Million Voters May Not Have Photo ID Required Under New UK Bill


According to a government analysis of its flagship franchise bill, more than 2 million UK voters may not have the necessary ID to participate in the next election, triggering warnings that ” decades of democratic progress ”are in danger of being reversed.

The plan for mandatory photo ID in elections – a central feature of the Queen’s speech on Tuesday – risks disproportionately hitting older, disabled and homeless voters who are less likely to be in poverty. such documents, critics said. American civil rights groups have warned it amounts to a Republican-style election crackdown.

Other key features of the Queen’s clean speech were:

A series of bills aimed at new Conservative voters in the north of England and the Midlands, including an expansion of adult education, looser planning rules for housing construction and investment in areas such than broadband and 5G, trains and buses.

A crackdown on the right to challenge the government in court, new rules to make asylum claims more difficult and a bill allowing speakers who have been “dismantled” in universities to seek redress. The controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill also adds restrictions on the right to protest.

No sign of promised social protection reforms, with only a vague promise that proposals “will be brought forward.” In the fight against obesity, advertising of foods high in saturated fat, salt or sugar will be subject to a 9 p.m. turn on television and a total ban online.

Details of voter identification plans, presented by the Cabinet Office, show that the range of types of photo ID has been broadened since the initial trials, where only passports, driver’s licenses or travel cards identity were allowed, to include identity documents such as travel passes and credit cards. disabled parking permit badge.

A recently released UK-wide study commissioned by the Cabinet Office found that while 98% of adults had at least one of these types of ID, the figure dropped to 96%, where the photo was still definitely recognizable – a necessity for use during elections. – which means that around 2.1 million people were at risk of missing out.

The study showed the disproportionate impact of voter identification rules on certain groups and the likelihood of the law delaying them from voting, even with a promised plan for councils to offer a free “voter card” to those. in need.

It found that 91% of people over the age of 85 had ID with a recognizable photo and 94% of those with a disability. Of all those without photo ID, more than a quarter said the new rules would make them less likely to vote, 19% of those without recognizable photo ID saying the same thing.

Opponents say the offense of posing as another voter at a polling station is virtually non-existent in the UK. From 2010 to 2016, covering two general elections and the EU referendum, there were 146 allegations with seven people convicted, five in a single case.

The proposals have raised alarm bells for a range of groups. Age UK has said it “risks being a barrier for some older people exercising their democratic right to vote,” while homeless charity Centrepoint has called for more efforts to prevent people from vulnerable and low-income “to be potentially excluded from having a say at the polls”. .

Cat Smith, the shadow cabinet minister in the Labor cabinet, said the government was “reversing decades of democratic progress” and urgently needed to rethink this “unnecessary policy”. “Voting is safe and secure in Britain,” she added. “Ministers should promote confidence in our elections instead of spreading scary unfounded stories that threaten our democracy.”

Johnson’s spokesperson defended the identity measures as proportionate, saying, “We believe that showing ID to vote is a reasonable approach to tackle the inexcusable potential for voter fraud.”

The plans also face a potential hurdle in court. Neil Coughlan, a 68-year-old man from Essex who does not have photo ID, has been leading a crowdfunding lawsuit against the proposals since the pilots began in 2019, supported by groups such as the LGBT Foundation, Stonewall and the Runnymede Trust. He was allowed to take his case to the Supreme Court.

The Queen’s broader speech was described by Johnson in the Commons as moving the UK forward “with superb infrastructure and with a new emphasis on skills and technology”, but was condemned by Labor as lacking in ambition or vision.

Presented by the Queen in an uncluttered ceremony with just 74 people allowed in the Lord Chamber to hear it, the list of more than two dozen proposed laws combined interventionist economics with more overtly populist movements.

Responding to Johnson in the Commons, Keir Starmer said the government did not understand “the urgency and scale of the transformation needed” after the Covid pandemic.

The Labor leader pointed to President Joe Biden’s agenda for rebuilding the US economy, saying Johnson was “hiding the cracks” and focusing too much on “short-term stuff and distant promises.”

“The government still doesn’t understand what went wrong over the past decade and doesn’t have a plan for the next one,” Starmer said. He lamented the absence of an employment plan in the speech and the long-promised employment bill to strengthen rights at work.

“Even before the pandemic, Britain needed transformative change: to reset our economy, to rebuild our public services, to strengthen our union and our democracy for decades to come,” he said.

Responding to Starmer, the Prime Minister said his plans for the next parliament would help the UK ‘bounce back better’ from the pandemic, saying: ‘This government will not just go back to where it is now.’

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here