Posted by John O in Uncategorized | No Comments | Edit

At the annual Queen’s Speech last week, the controversial Electoral Integrity Bill was announced. If passed, it means that voters will need to produce a valid form of photo ID when they cast their vote. The government rationale behind the legislation is to secure trust and prevent fraud in UK voting systems. It is thought the legislation will be in place by next year. 

Despite being routinely practiced in many countries, including Northern Ireland and the United States, this type of legislation has been criticised for deterring voters and, more problematically, disenfranchising poorer, minority and elderly voters. This is due to the fact that procuring approved forms of identification can be expensive and time consuming. 

Since this bill was first proposed in 2015, civil society groups and politicians have likened the proposals to voter suppression tactics in the United States, citing their ability to deter marginalised voters and prevent full democratic engagement. The criticism in the United Kingdom ranges from the negligible levels of voter personation (fraud), the cost implication of procuring valid photo ID, and the lack of free universal photographic ID. 

In the UK context, this has been the most contentious element of the new proposed bill, aside from the ideological arguments that the law is bureaucratic, unnecessary and intentionally discriminatory. A study commissioned by the Cabinet Office and published on March 31 found that 9 per cent of UK adults lacked photographic identification that was still valid and had a recognisable photograph. That’s approximately two million people (Cabinet office, 2021) . It is difficult to know what percentage of GRT do not possess photo ID, but likely the very young or the very old. 

According to the Cabinet Office’s own report those without any photo ID at the time of the survey were substantially more likely to believe the requirement for photo ID would make voting difficult (39%). 

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