This week I needed to take part in a special council briefing on new rules that the Government is bringing in to make it harder for people to vote in elections.
Amongst all the other problems that the Conservative government is inflicting upon us you could be forgiven for missing this one. However, if you like to vote in elections, and I sincerely hope you do, then you need to pay attention. In the next set of elections i.e. May 2023, you will not be allowed to vote at a Polling Station if you do not take the correct ID documentation with you.
You might think, well that’s fine, I have a passport, or driving licence, and I don’t mind taking it along with me. It’s just a minor inconvenience. I would just encourage you to think beyond your own situation to that of other family members, friends and neighbours. Do you have an older family member who might not have valid photo ID, or a younger person who doesn’t drive or travel internationally? Estimates from different research bodies suggest between 1 million to 3 million people in Britain lack the proper ID and could therefore lose their ability to vote.
At this point it’s worth pausing to ask why this is happening anyway. British elections are known to be highly secure and reliable, with voter fraud occurring very rarely and in very specific circumstances. It is not a widespread problem, and there is zero evidence that it is needed in North Tyneside. In short, fake voters are a fake problem!
The Electoral Reform Society have costed the changes at £180 million over the course of the next decade. Up and down the country taxpayers like you and me will be funding that. Imagine what else it could be spent on – like more nurses, teachers, police or care workers. What a colossal waste!
All of the measures being introduced in the Elections Act 2022 could have been made conditional on a Council being shown to be ineffective in preventing voter fraud. That way, the vast majority of us could continue as normal, with the extra security checks only being used in areas that have experienced problems. That would be much less disruptive and much cheaper. Unless the Tories have another agenda. Some have suggested that making it harder for certain sections of the community to vote will improve the Conservatives electoral results. What do you think?
Finally, as you might expect with the current government, this is all being introduced very lastminute dot com. Deadlines are fast approaching and yet the online systems the government needs to process voters who wish to receive the alternative “Voter Authority Certificate” are nowhere near ready. I’ll keep you posted as I hear more but all I can say is that I have a sense of slow-motion car crash building here. I hope I’m wrong…
Sign up to receive Wilson’s Weekly direct to your inbox
Image by rawpixel.com on Freepik