Mark Whitehead 25 May 2018

Mandatory ID ‘disenfranchises’ voters, electoral watchdog says

Electoral watchdogs have rejected a claim that a recent trial requiring voters to show ID was 'a great success'.

The Electoral Reform Society said the scheme in Woking - one of five areas to take part in pilots for the council elections on May 3 - proved voters were being turned away because they failed to show the correct documents.

The society's chief executive Darren Hughes said most of those turned away did not return with the correct papers, proving that ID requirements were 'a real barrier to people being able to vote'.

Woking returning officer Ray Morgan announced this week that 99.73% of electors in the borough provided the required identification at polling stations and only 51 people were refused a ballot paper.

Mr Morgan, who is also CEO of Woking BC, said 'I think we can call this trial a great success' and he saw 'no reason why bringing ID to vote cannot be embedded in our democratic process'.

But Mr Hughes said volunteers had seen 'countless absurd examples' of people being turned away in the trials which took place in Gosport, Bromley, Swindon and Watford as well as Woking.

He told LocalGov: 'What is evident from Woking is that the majority of those turned away did not come back: of the 89 people who attended a polling station either with the wrong ID or no ID, only 38 returned with new documentation to cast their vote.

'This shows clearly that the ID requirements were a real barrier to people being able to vote.

'Given that there’s not been a single verified allegation of “personation” in Woking in the past 10 years, these findings are more evidence that mandatory voter ID disenfranchises many times more honest voters than alleged “fraudulent” ones.

'Voters have paid a high price for this unnecessary experiment with our democracy.'

For more on this story check out our feature 'Voter ID: cure for fraud or unreliable encumbrance?'

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