Charity groups urge UK government to not expand compulsory voter ID

Charity group in UK
Last updated on September 5th, 2018

The UK government has received an appeal from over 20 charities and civil society groups to halt the plans to expand compulsory voter ID. The UK voters have argued that the May trial at local elections was completely unable to dismiss the fears it would put off the disadvantaged and vulnerable brackets.

A joint letter has been written by the organizations, including Age UK, Liberty and Centrepoint, and The Salvation Army, was sent to Chloe Smith, the Cabinet Office Minister. It warned that the governments’ idea is pretty extreme for dealing with an almost negligible problem of voter impersonation at polling booths.

The letter said that any broad plans to compel voters to show ID at elections in England would “disproportionately impact the most marginalised groups in society”, which may include older voters, homeless people, or others from minority backgrounds.

Among the signatories, the Runnymede Trust, a race equality think tank, noted from the people of the wind-rush generation and their struggle of proving their right to live in the UK, it could be difficult for some groups to provide the correct documentation.

Voters in five English Council areas had to show their ID to vote in May elections, varying from their ballot paper to documents like a driving licence or a passport.

This month, a report by the Electoral Commission stated that the trial showed favourable results with “nearly everyone” who went to polling booths and were able to show ID. It also said that the people belonging to relevant areas were confident that fraud was being tackled.

The commission however warned that there was “not yet enough evidence to fully address concerns and answer questions about the impact of identification requirements on voters.” For instance, whether or not such plans could put off certain people from even trying to vote.

The joint letter on the stated that 350 people with no correct ID were turned away and did not return to vote. Besides, throughout 2017, there were just 28 allegations of voter impersonation.

The letter said: “Further trials are a distraction from the many more pressing challenges our democracy faces. There are other measures which the government could be pursuing, which would do more to help meet the Cabinet Office’s plan to improve democratic engagement. We urge the government to think again about imposing this risky policy of voter ID.”

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