Election experts have slammed a Conservative manifesto proposal to make voters show personal identification as ‘overbearing and counterproductive’.
The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) warns the proposal contained in the Tory manifesto for the June 8 general election, unveiled this week, will ‘raise barriers to democracy’ and put people off voting.
The ERS says there were just 26 allegations of personation - the offence voter ID is meant to prevent – last year, which resulted in only one conviction.
Chief executive Katie Ghose said: ‘There is simply not enough evidence of voter fraud in the UK to justify such a dramatic change to Britain’s democratic traditions.
‘The introduction of voter ID is something that has to be thought about very carefully – because there’s a substantial risk that this could raise barriers to participation and put people off voting.
She added: ‘The UK has an international reputation for running elections with integrity and openness. It would be wrong to risk throwing that reputation away by making it harder for people to vote, without thinking about the consequences or how to improve our democracy and turnout alongside it.’
Chris Skidmore, minister for the constitution, said: 'Northern Ireland has required paper ID at polling stations since 1985 and photo ID since 2003, and it has proven to be effective and not curtailed turnout. Our proposals are supported by national and international election watchdogs.
'At present, in Great Britain, it is harder to take out a library book or collect a parcel at a post office than it is to vote in someone’s name.'