Reports circulating in the press indicate that the Government intend to introduce the need to show photo i.d. in order to be allowed to vote. The current view is that either a driving license or passport will be required. Unspecified changes to postal voting are also being mooted. The pretext for this change is the need to crack down on ‘personation’ i.e. voting by people who are not entitled to vote. In fact ‘personation’ is a very rare phenomena. At the last election there was only a single conviction for this crime. In the 2015 General Election there were only a total of 26 allegations of in-person voter fraud.
There are far more serious threats to elections ranging from foreign interference to Facebooks declaration that it is OK for politicians to lie in their advertising on their platform.
Whilst one person has been convicted of personation there are at least 3.5 million and up to as many as 11 million adults without photo i.d.(depending on the type of i.d. required) in the UK who are currently entitled to vote. These people are predominantly amongst the poorest in society or suffer from an illness or disability which precludes them from driving or travelling abroad. Whatever the reason these people will have to pay out for a document solely to be able to vote. Many cannot afford to do so and with an election expected as early as November even those who can afford it and take action now may well not get the document in time.
In reality this is a tax on voting and is aimed at suppressing voting amongst the main demographics the Tories see as unlikely to vote for them.
Labour should, and probably will, oppose this and should make clear that the next Labour Government would repeal these rules if they were to be enacted.
In the short term there is a way to avoid the need for photo i.d. and that is to apply for a postal vote. Since you will not be turning up at the polling booth you will not need i.d. All that is needed for a postal vote at present is your date of birth and signature.
If you know anybody who falls into this category now is the time to chase them up to register for a postal vote. It is also an option that needs to be given wider publicity wherever we are discussing the General Election and voting.