Boris Johnson has been warned that he could “accidentally disenfranchise” many of the Tory voters he needs in the north of England if he chooses to push ahead with plans to bring in mandatory photo ID at elections.
The impact of the proposed new rules will be felt greatest in north of England – where one in 14 people are without any suitable form photographic identification, according to analysis of YouGov poll findings.
Analysis by the Hands Off Our Vote campaign group also found that one in 25 people who voted for the Conservatives in the 2019 election have no form of photo ID which would be required to vote under the proposals.
The government said voters would require a passport, driving license, blue badge, travel pass with photo or a proof of age card in order to vote under its Elections Bill, brought before parliament on Monday.
Adults in the north of England will be hardest hit by the plans, with 7 per cent of voters in the region without a form of acceptable ID under the plans, compared to just 1 in 100 Londoners (1 per cent).
It means that if the plans go ahead the impact could be significant in marginal seats in the so-called “blue wall” in the north of England.
In Bury North, Bury South and Bolton North, Tory MPs won with a margin of less than 1 per cent of the vote. Of the 650 parliamentary constituencies, 67 seats were won by a margin of 5 percent or less of votes cast.
Marcus Roberts, head of international Politics at YouGov, said: “Boris Johnson’s 2019 and 2021 victories owe much to Northern voters who haven’t traditionally voted Conservative.
“But with data showing 1 in 14 Northern voters lacking ID, No 10 should be careful they don’t accidentally disenfranchise the very voters their recent wins owe so much to.”
In May the Cabinet Office slipped out a study that found more than two million people currently lack the necessary ID to vote.
Along with Labour, senior Tories and civil society groups have raised concerns about the proposals – accusing the government of using “Trumpian tactics” in an attempt to “rig democracy”.
Tory former Brexit secretary David Davis told The Independent there was “no evidence that ... there is a problem with voter fraud at polling stations”.
But ministers have insisted the Elections Bill will strengthen the “integrity” of the process.
“The bill will strengthen the integrity of our elections, by increasing transparency, fairness and accountability; providing more protection for candidates and voters,” said constitution minister Chloe Smith on Monday.
Cat Smith, Labour’s shadow minister for democracy, said: “It doesn’t matter how the government tries to dress it up, voter ID is a discriminatory policy which will disenfranchise millions of voters.
Ms Smith added: “The Conservatives must ditch this undemocratic policy which threatens to reverse decades of democratic progress.”
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