Conservatives will force people to use photo ID to vote, stopping millions from taking part in future elections

The law could ban a whole 7.5 per cent of the electorate from voting

Andrew Griffin
Thursday 18 May 2017 12:32
The PM reeled off some familiar soundbites at the Conservative manifesto launch this morning
The PM reeled off some familiar soundbites at the Conservative manifesto launch this morning

The Conservatives are to stop people from voting if they don't own a passport or a driving licence.

The plans to force people to show ID when they vote could stop millions of people from taking part in future elections.

The law would stop an estimated 3.5 million people, or 7.5 per cent of the electorate, from voting, according to the Electoral Commission. Those people would be stopped from voting entirely.

Conservative manifesto launch: In 90 seconds

“The government should be doing all it can to encourage lawful voting and ensure a high turnout, not putting extra hurdles in the way," Labour's shadow minister for voter engagement Cat Smith said when such laws were proposed in December. "The plans for photo ID are like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut, potentially denying a vote to millions.”

The manifesto was launched today with a commitment that introducing such rules would allow the British public to have "confident in our democracy".

"We will legislate to ensure that a form of identification must be presented before voting, to reform postal voting and to improve other aspects of the elections process to ensure that our elections are the most secure in the world. We will retain the traditional method of voting by pencil and paper, and tackle every aspect of electoral fraud," the manifesto reads.

Such voter ID laws have proved hugely controversial in the US, with activists arguing that they are racist and disenfranchise people who are poor in particular.

They have also been criticised for responding to a problem that isn't especially prevalent. The laws are intended to cut down on electoral fraud but according to a government report published late last year, there were 51.4 million votes cast and only a total of 26 allegations of fraud by people voting in person.

ID is already required to vote in Northern Ireland, where voters are issued with an electoral ID card. The government isn't expected to introduce any such card in the rest of the UK.

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