Britain’s election watchdog has warned of potential problems when the controversial voter ID system is introduced in local elections next May.
Ailsa Irvine, director of election administration at the Electoral Commission, told the FT that the organization is committed to supporting the implementation of voter identification. “But the timetable for the May elections next year remains tight. The requirement must be delivered in a way that is accessible, safe and workable,” she said.
“We have expressed our concern to the UK Government that the delays we have seen so far, and the timetable for implementation, mean that these important considerations may not be fully met when the new policy is implemented,” she added .
The Tory government first made plans six years ago to introduce identity cards at the polls, insisting that this would restore “integrity” to the political system by tackling voter fraud.
But critics argue that the crime of voter fraud is very rare, with only one conviction in 2017 and 2019, two of the busiest recent years for elections, including council and general elections.
Parliament passed the 2022 Elections Act in April, which stipulated that the new voter identification rules should be in place for the next round of elections in May 2023.
On Monday, the government will introduce the necessary secondary legislation, called a “legal instrument”, to work out the details of the reforms. Unusually, the SI will be debated on the floor of the House of Commons rather than the more common practice of a few MPs meeting in a committee room.
Labor has pointed out that the chances of being faked in an election are less than winning the lottery and warned that the policy threatens to prevent millions of people from exercising their democratic right as an estimated 3.5 million people do not have any form of of photo with you. ID CARD.
Angela Rayner, deputy Labor leader, said it was a “scandal” that the government was spending money to disenfranchise people when their priority should be the cost of living crisis. “Not only is the Tory voter identification plan completely unworkable for voters, it is also unnecessary and will exclude millions from voting,” she said.
The Electoral Commission will conduct an extensive awareness campaign in the first half of next year. The types of IDs allowed include passports, driver’s licenses, biometric immigration documents, and some discount travel passes.
A new voter document called “Voter Authority Certificate” will be made available to people without any other form of identification, and people will likely be able to apply for it for free early next year.
The government said photo identification had been used in elections in Northern Ireland since 2003. “We cannot be complacent when it comes to ensuring that our democracy remains secure.
“Anyone who is eligible to vote will have the opportunity to do so and 98 percent of voters already have an accepted ID. . . we are working closely with the industry to support the rollout and finance the necessary equipment and personnel.”
John Ault, executive director of Democracy Volunteers, an NGO, recently released a report warning that councils were likely to struggle with the new regime.
The Cabinet Office has found that 42 per cent of people without photo ID are unlikely to apply for a voter card: “This would suggest that almost half of those without photo ID would not try to apply for the voter card,” it admitted.