UK’s first vote with photo ID requirement in the books; people turned away
Products in search of a problem are nothing new, but biometric identification employed to eliminate voter fraud in developed economies is being called a danger to pluralistic societies.
Last week, the English held local elections and for the first time, London required everyone voting to carry one of several forms of photo ID.
The United Kingdom advocacy group the Electoral Reform Society, wrote an analysis about the issue for the liberal-leaning The Guardian, that was anything but complimentary about the program’s execution.
Approved documents included driver’s licenses and passports, transportation cards and elder-citizen bus passes. The requirement was enacted by the ruling Conservative Party.
As of late last week, the Conservatives has lost at least 1,000 of 8,000 open seats nationwide, according to the Associated Press in a performance that the Tories had pre-emptively described as a worst-case scenario.
The party line prior to winning biometric requirements for voting was that wholesale ballot fraud was being carried out by non-nationals and people who do not look like they could someday occupy the royal palace.
Challenges to votes, if any, will come along later, but if this year is like 2021, there will be miniscule evidence of fraud accusations much less fraud convictions.
There were 327 fraud cases investigated by police two years ago resulting in one acquittal and one conviction, according to the national, independent Electoral Commission.
The last time local elections were held, in 2019, there was one conviction for fraud out of 58 million ballots cast, according to Jess Garland, director of research and policy of the Electoral Reform Society,
The Commission has a spotty record when it comes to managing elections, although there are no reports of shoddy or skewed statistics. Commissioners declared last week’s balloting to be well run.
Garland claims people were turned away from the polls, perhaps in greater numbers than any anticipated fraud allegation.
Two million potential voters have no biometric ID of any kind, according to Garland, and they tend to be from marginalized communities. Even the new free voter ID card offered by London is unlikely to something they can or would enroll for. Only one percent of those who the new ID card was intended to help had registered, as of late-February.
India, a leader in digital identification, could see the deployment of face scanners as part of an anti-fraud program, according to new publication Firstpost.
The Unites States, too, is watching as states, run by largely anti-immigration conservatives, enact rules that make it harder for marginalized communities to vote. They often use photo-ID laws despite there being no evidence of voter fraud that could change an election.