ID documents are required to collect a parcel or hire a car. We should take the same approach to voting

Minister for the Constitution Chloe Smith responds to claims voter ID checks will discriminate against ethnic minority communities

Chloe Smith
Sunday 22 April 2018 23:22
Comments
'The Government remains committed to legislating that a form of identification must be presented before voting'
'The Government remains committed to legislating that a form of identification must be presented before voting'

The British public deserves to have confidence in our democracy. Voter ID – where people are asked to provide identification to vote – is an important step to ensuring the public can have confidence in the systems that underpin our democratic system.

We already ask that people prove who they are in order to collect a parcel from the post office or rent a car. We believe it is proportionate and reasonable to take the same approach to protect voting rights.

Today (Monday 23 April) I am responding to the Equality & Human Rights Commission to confirm the steps we have taken to embed equalities within our Voter identification pilot scheme running in five local authority elections on 3 May this year.

The aim of the forthcoming Voter ID pilots is to find out what works best to protect voting rights and preventing fraud in our system.

The impact of electoral fraud on voters can be significant, taking away their right to vote as they want – whether through intimidation, bribery or by impersonating someone and casting their vote. I would hope that anything that combats this crime would be welcomed.

That is why the Government remains committed to legislating that a form of identification must be presented before voting, reforming postal voting and improving other aspects of the elections process to ensure that our elections are fit for the future.

This has been shown in Northern Ireland, which has required photo ID since 2003. It has proven to be effective at tackling fraud and not curtailed election turnout. Canada also uses Voter ID and the Electoral Commission has proposed the principle for the rest of the UK.

There has been concern that requiring Voter ID could prevent those who are eligible from voting. But this is simply not the case.

All eligible voters who have none of the required identification will be accommodated for by local authorities. A wide range of IDs will be accepted, from marriage certificates and passports to bus passes, depending on where you live. If you don't think you have the required ID, you will need to contact your local authority and they will explain how they can provide you with an alternative document.

No-one will need to purchase identification documents to be able to vote in the pilots scheduled for May 2018 and the valid identification will not be limited to a passport or driving licence.

Local authorities in the pilot areas are working with a number of organisations who represent vulnerable people to make sure that everyone eligible to vote will be able to do so. They are also implementing Equality Impact Assessments and we continue to take advice from the Accessibility to Elections Working Group, which includes the Royal Mencap Society, Mind, RNIB, Scope, United Response, NHS, the Association of Electoral Administrators, the Electoral Commission and the Scottish Assessors Association.

We are just weeks away from polling day. Everyone is working to make sure each voter is aware of the pilot. It’s in everyone’s interests that we have a strong trusted democracy - and these pilots are seeking to support this.

Chloe Smith is Minister for the Constitution and MP for Norwich North

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

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

Comments

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