US conservatives think the Queen is onboard with the GOP’s voter ID push. Not so fast

Confusion stems from complete lack of understanding about monarch’s role in UK

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Tuesday 11 May 2021 20:08 BST
Queen's Speech unveils plans on freedom of speech, voter ID and snap elections

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


US conservatives have falsely claimed that Queen Elizabeth II is in favour of mandatory photo identification during elections after a spurious report and a misunderstanding about the monarch’s role.

A number of right-wing commentators jumped to the incorrect assumption based on the inclusion of the proposed policy in the Queen’s Speech.

The speech is a tradition whereby the monarch reads a statement laying out the legislative agenda of the elected UK government for the coming year. She does not write it, nor have any input on policy.

This year’s speech, prepared by Boris Johnson’s conservative government, includes the controversial measure that would require voters to present photo ID at polling places on election day. This reflects the position of the administration, not the monarch.

The proposal has been compared by civil rights groups to the wave of legislation currently being proposed and passed by Republican Party-controlled state legislatures in the US. These laws are seen as a direct suppression of the vote of poor and minority communities.

Georgia and Florida have both passed legislation that has been widely condemned and deemed unnecessary given there is no evidence of electoral fraud in either state – lawmakers have been accused of trying to solve a problem that does not exist.

The UK has similarly recorded almost no instances of any voter fraud during recent elections.

The speech also included proposals that would suppress protests via new policing and crime legislation that has already led to demonstrations. Similar moves have also been unveiled in the US.

While laws are passed in the name of the Queen by her government, her role in all of this is largely symbolic, with any formal powers delegated to elected officials.

However, right-wing commentators in the US responded to a headline on Twitter account Breaking911, that claimed, citing The Guardian, that “The Queen of England will announce tomorrow that citizens will be required to show photo ID to vote in general elections in order to prevent fraud.”

While The Guardian’s reporting was correct, the paraphrasing of the tweet was pounced on in the US, with the left hurling accusations of racism, and the right claiming vindication of their policy.

Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, tweeted: “If Queen Elizabeth is able to get behind Voter ID to secure their elections, Democrats should be able to do the same. This shouldn’t be a controversial proposal.”

Later, apparently unaware of the Queen’s powers, and the left’s existing dislike of hereditary positions, colonialism, and racism, he added: “Looking forward to widespread calls from the left to ‘cancel’ the Queen of England over the UK’s voter ID policy.”

Former member of Donald Trump’s legal team Jenna Ellis similarly also failed to understand the monarch’s role, tweeting that the Queen supports voter ID laws while berating attorney Marc E Elias about whether he thinks her majesty is a racist based on the incorrect statement.

“What a pansy little cop-out. Marc won’t respond because he either actually believes the Queen is racist for supporting voter ID or he knows he is a total hypocrite. Which is it, Marc? she tweeted.

Lavern Spicer, a congressional candidate in Florida, included the London mayoral election when giving her opinion.

She posted: “The Queen of England is about to start requiring Voter ID (probably because she’s wondering how Sadiq Khan’s crazy ass got elected again) but America is still trying to call it racist. Is it racist now when the UK does it?”

When she was corrected about who writes the speech and conceives its content, she replied: “So you are trying to tell me the Queen is just a mouthpiece? No. It doesn’t work that way.”

Ms Spicer is apparently unaware that that is exactly how it works, as many were all too keen to point out.

One response reads: “Google is free and still someone running for congress is perfectly happy to wave their ignorance around like a turd on a stick. Incredible really.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in