Millions of people will be denied their right to vote if the Government presses ahead with its mandatory voter ID plans, according to a call by charities and campaign groups.
A coalition of charities, civil society figures and campaign groups have argued that certain groups of people – such as older or young people, disabled people and the homeless – will be disproportionately affected by the scheme.
Research by the Electoral Commission shows that around 3.5 million people do not have access to photo ID. Women, those living in urban areas, the under 20s and over 65s were less likely to hold a driving license.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said: ‘We are worried that requiring proof of identity at the ballot box could inadvertently impede some older people from voting, since they are far less likely than younger groups to have forms of photo ID like passports and driving licences readily to hand.’
Sarah Pickard, senior lecturer and researcher on young people's political participation, added: ‘At a time when young people are showing how engaged they are with political issues and calling for positive action from politicians, voter ID trials are creating more obstacles to young people's electoral participation. Those from marginalised backgrounds will be locked out from their democratic right to vote when politicians should be enabling and encouraging them.’
Voters in 10 council areas will be required to bring ID to the polling station today as part of the pilot scheme.
Darren Hughes, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: ‘These voter ID plans – if rolled out nationally - could pull up the drawbridge for millions of voters, including many already on the margins. Millions lack photographic ID, meaning the scheme could lock out both older voters, young voters, and those whose current ID does not match their gender.’