Voter identification will strengthen democracy, not weaken it. With the Government announcing the introduction of voter ID to UK elections, we should see this as a way to legitimise our electoral system and make sure every vote counts.
The Queen’s Speech announced electoral legislation that would require voter identification, following on from the Government’s 2019 commitment.
Unsurprisingly, the left and Labour are against the implementation of voter identification on the basis that it would disenfranchise millions, especially minorities and the working class. The left-wing organisation Momentum has gone as far as to say that “the Tories are rigging the vote”.
Jeremy Corbyn has said: “The people that the Tories are trying to stop voting will be disproportionately from ethnic minority backgrounds, and they will disproportionately be working-class voters of all ethnicities.”
This is absolute nonsense.
For one thing, it makes no sense that the Tories are “rigging the vote” against the working class, considering that 42% of the working class voted Tory in 2019 (compared to 33% for Labour). In addition, after the sweeping victory of the Hartlepool by-election, it is clear that the Conservative Party is the party that has the working-class vote. Why, then, would they want to remove a key voter base?
The left also tries to argue that voter identification will remove the vote from millions. It’s ironic that the repeated statistic of “3.5 million UK citizens are without voter ID” comes from a report that concludes voter identification is necessary.
“Our review of electoral fraud in the UK, which reported in January 2014, concluded that polling station voting in Great Britain remains vulnerable to personation fraud. There are currently few checks available at polling stations to prevent someone claiming to be an elector and voting in their name … We, therefore, recommended that there should be a requirement for electors across Great Britain to present an acceptable form of identification prior to being issued with a ballot paper and voting at the polling station.”
– Delivering and costing a proof of identity scheme for polling station voters in Britain, page 3 from the Electoral Commission, 2015.
A recent report by IFF Research showed a completely different story than what has been told by the left-wing narrative.
The report states that 98% of people have some form of identification and 96% have recognisable identification. Despite this statistic, we also have to consider that not many people need identification throughout their day-to-day lives and therefore have no need for identification: it’s not that they can’t access it, but that they don’t need to (thus why many have unrecognisable or out of date ID).
The argument that this will disproportionately negatively affect minority communities is wrong. According to the report, white individuals are less likely to hold ID than ethnic minorities, with Asian / Asian British being more likely to hold identification. This is not to mention that it is completely patronising to suggest ethnic minorities are incapable of obtaining voter identification.
In the 2019 voter ID pilots, 99.6% of electors were able to cast their vote without a problem. Out of those who didn’t originally bring identification, only 0.03% to 0.7% didn’t return to the polling station.
According to Ipsos MORI, nearly three quarters of voters thought voter identification was already necessary.
Cabinet Office Minister Chloe Smith has stated that “stealing someone’s vote is stealing their voice. Fraud, and the intent to intimidate or coerce a voter, are crimes. So this Government is stamping out space for such damage to take place in our election.”
In addition, the Government plans to provide free identification to those who do not have it, as suggested by the Electoral Commission. As the Queen’s Speech Association Background Briefing in 2019, page 104, states:
“Any voter who does not have an approved form of ID will be able to apply, free of charge, for a local electoral identity document.”
The stance that “there haven’t been many cases of voter fraud, so therefore it isn’t an issue” is ridiculous. The cases detected are the minimum amount of cases of voter fraud, since not every voter fraud case is detected. If we could detect every case of voter fraud, then this wouldn’t be an issue. However, since there aren’t enough checks on whether votes are legitimate, we cannot possibly say how many cases of voter fraud there are.
It’s no surprise that the Labour Party is against Voter ID, considering the amount of fraud the party has been involved in over the past decade.
Whether that be in 2011, where six Labour Councillors were accused of intimidation, bribery, and even creating a “vote-forging factory”.
In 2019, where Labour activists defied election rules by campaigning outside of the polling stations. And again, where the Labour candidate for the Totteridge and Bowerdean by-election was charged with submitting fraudulent votes. Or the five electoral fraud allegations at the Peterborough by-elections.
In 2020, when two London Labour branches had to be suspended after allegations of electoral fraud had been made by the police.
Instead of ensuring that the Government commits to providing identification to all, the Labour Party has decided to completely go against voter identification. Our problem is not the same as in America, and they need to stop treating it as such. It just shows how much the Labour Party is grasping for straws.
This is just another example of how disconnected the party is from the average voter. Instead of crying wolf about how Boris Johnson is a fascist, when will they acknowledge their own internal problems?