GOVERNMENT plans to demand photographic ID be shown at polling stations in order for people to vote have been supported by Worcester’s MP despite no cases of electoral fraud locally in the past decade.
Robin Walker backed the Government’s proposals which were in the Conservative manifesto at the 2019 General Election and formed part of the Queen’s address during the State Opening of Parliament yesterday (Tuesday).
That’s despite a Freedom of Information request from the Observer which has revealed no cases of electoral fraud reported to or identified by Worcester City Council in the past 11 years, a period covering four General Elections.
Under the plans put forward by ministers, voters would have to show official identification at polling stations before being allowed to cast their vote. Valid ID would include a driving licence or passport.
Initial proposals were first put forward by former Prime Minister Theresa May but have been taken forward by Boris Johnson in a bid to tackle electoral fraud.
Campaign group the Electoral Reform Society have warned the proposals risked leaving tens of thousands of legitimate voters without a voice.
Figures from the group show 3.5 million UK residents do not have access to photo ID and 11 million do not have a passport or driving licence. In response the Government has said those without a passport or driving licence would get a free-of-charge ‘local electoral identity document’.
In response, Mr Walker told the Observer: “I think it’s an overdue improvement which will bring us into line with other jurisdictions including other parts of the UK.
“In Northern Ireland, voter ID was introduced nearly 20 years ago, incidentally under a Labour government and hasn’t deterred voters or highly competitive elections.
“IDs will be available for free which is crucial and will help to avoid the issue of personation which does happen but often does not get taken up as a criminal offence because it is hard to investigate.
“The Electoral Commission has concluded from its pilots this is something which can be effectively rolled out and I think it can only be a good thing if it is.
“I have picked up some concerns from disability groups which I’ve taken up with colleagues in Government and I am keen to make sure there is a strong assurance and enrolment programme to make sure as many people as possible get the chance to vote securely,” he added.