Committee urges UK gov to halt voter ID bill as requirement could reduce turnout
The Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC), a group of cross-party MPs, has urged the government to stop the passage of the elections bill which would bring in the requirement to present photographic ID at polling stations, reports the Press Agency. The committee argues the bill could reduce turnout and prove discriminatory.
PACAC has released a report which finds that more thorough consultations are needed and fear voter ID requirement “will introduce a barrier preventing some people from exercising their vote.”
The report notes a 2.3 percent fall in turnout directly related to the requirement when it was introduced in Northern Ireland for the 2004 assembly elections.
“Introducing a compulsory voter ID requirement risks upsetting the balance of our current electoral system, making it more difficult to vote and removing an element of the trust inherent in the current system,” states the report.
The UK does not have a national ID system. Voters would be able to show a driving licence or passport. Those without photographic ID could apply for a new credential, the Voter Card.
The committee received a significant amount of evidence from charities raising concern that the need for voter ID would create new barriers to voting for particular groups such as disabled people, transgender and non-binary voters and Black and ethnic minority groups.
“Given the barriers that already face disabled people while voting, [the charity] Sense is concerned that this could make it harder for some disabled people to vote,” states the report.
“While the bill’s broad definition of photographic ID does partly mitigate the disproportionate effect on disabled people, any additional barrier could discourage more disabled people from getting involved in elections.”
A recent survey commissioned by the OIX found that 5.9 million Britons, or 12 percent of the population, are “ID-challenged”.
Meanwhile, multi-million pound tenders are out for services to verify ID and issue the new voter cards.
Similar voter ID proposals in other countries have met with the same criticism about supressed voter turnout.