Councillor Jocelynne Scutt, County Councillor for West Chesterton in Cambridge, has spoken out against reports that the government plans to introduce Voter ID at polling stations for the elections in May 2017. The government is expected to announce in the New Year that it has accepted most of the detailed proposals in a report by Sir Eric Pickles in August 2016 which he claimed would address voter fraud. Requiring people to show ID in the form of a passport, driving licence or utility bill at the polling station is expected to be at the heart of the proposals with pilots rolled out across the country for May 2017.
Councillor Scutt said: “Any claim that these changes are designed to combat voter fraud don’t stand serious scrutiny. Of the more than 51 million votes cast in 2015 there were only 123 cases of alleged voter fraud and all but 22 of those were dismissed. Of course no-one wants to see any vote being cast improperly but the changes proposed by Eric Pickles are undemocratic and will actually disenfranchise huge numbers of people.
People who are entitled to vote should be facilitated in doing so, not hindered. Many voters, and especially young people, don’t have a utility bill let alone a passport or driving license but the government seems to have forgotten that they still have the right to vote. What are they going to do – turn them away from the polling station and deny them that right?”
Councillor Scutt added: “There is good evidence from other countries, including the United States, that requiring voter ID affects the number of young people, women, elderly people and black and minority ethnic people who vote. The changes to voter registration have already resulted in many dropping off the electoral roll, boundary changes have left out hundreds of thousands in how they were done and now it seems the government want to push even more into an electoral black hole.”