PMQs: Boris Johnson says ‘SNP failing people of Scotland’
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The Government is expected to introduce the bill in the spring to make photo ID mandatory for all UK-wide elections from 2023. Campaigners who oppose the change have claimed it is unnecessary due to the low levels of voter fraud in the country. Critics have also highlighted how the bill could unfairly impact ethnic minorities and working-class communities across the UK.
Alba Kapoor, Policy Officer at the race and equality think tank Runnymede Trust, explained how the bill “risks locking millions of voters out of our electoral system”.
Government data has showed that 11 million electors do not have a passport or photographic driving licence in the UK.
Those without photo identification are disproportionately people from BAME and working class communities.
Between 2015 and 2019, average figures show that 76 percent of white people in England have a driving license compared to 53 percent of black people and 61 percent of people of Asian ethnicity.
Ms Kapoor told Express.co.uk: “This Bill risks locking millions of voters out of our electoral system.
“The Government’s own data shows that Black, Asian and minority ethnic people are less likely to have a form of photo ID and face being turned away at the ballot box as a result of this legislation.”
The Cabinet Office have said the list of approved photographic ID will not be limited to passports and driving licences.
It added that any voter without access to photo ID will be able to apply, free of charge, for an electoral ID from their local authority.
But some critics have questioned the need for such a bill when there was only one conviction for voter personation after the 2019 general election.
Ms Kapoor highlighted how the Government should be focusing on increasing voter turnout in marginalised communities.
She said: “The Government should prioritise building confidence in the democratic process, instead of building barriers to voting.
“This means taking steps to increase voter registration in marginalised communities, and supporting them to have a voice in a political system that too often fails to speak out for them.
“A bill that mandates Voter ID is not about electoral integrity, but about exclusion.”
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Mandatory photo ID was previously introduced in Northern Ireland in 2003 by the then Labour Government.
Speaking about the impact of photo ID in Northern Ireland, Minister of State for the Constitution and Devolution Chloe Smith said: “There has been no adverse effect on turnout or participation by such groups since then .”
A Cabinet Office spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “It’s wrong to suggest that people will be adversely affected by our plans to strengthen the electoral system.
“Voter ID has been operating in Northern Ireland successfully for decades and 99.6 percent of people cast their vote successfully in our pilots.
“A broad range of photographic documents will be accepted, as will a free electoral ID, which will be available to those who do not already have ID.”
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