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Lancaster MP Cat Smith condemns Tory Voter ID check plans

Author: 
John Freeman

Lancaster MP Cat Smith has hit out at Conservative plans to introduce Voter ID checks, which over 40 charities argue will rob vulnerable people of a say in elections.

At the local elections in May 2018, the Conservatives want to make it harder for people to vote. In five local authorities - Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford and Woking  people will have to show identification, like a driving licence or passport - and the Tories have already pledged to roll-out Voter ID nationwide before a single pilot has taken place.

This would make it much harder for people to vote – and the Labour Party - along with more than 40 charities, like Age UK, Stonewall and the Salvation Army - argues it will disproportionately affect people who are young, disabled, elderly, homeless, trans, or from minority ethnic communities.

Labour's shadow voter and engagement and youth affairs minister, Lancaster MP Cat Smith, told the BBC News voter fraud was a "small problem" but 7.5% of voters would not have a passport or driving licence to prove their ID.

"The government cannot ignore this warning from an unprecedented coalition of charities and academics and continue with their cynical plans to introduce voter ID.

"Rather than putting up unnecessary barriers to voting off the back of very little evidence, this government must urgently rethink their plan, to keep democracy as open and accessible as possible."

Labour and the charities raising concerns are urging the Tories to urgently rethink their plan, to keep our democracy as open and accessible as possible. The Labour Party has also launched a petition calling on the Tories to reconsider.

Constitution Minister Chloe Smith says people already have to prove their identity when they apply for benefits, rented a house or travelled abroad and claims the Electoral Commission is "fully behind the pilots because they think it is the right thing to do to test how the integrity of our poll can be improved".

Officials say they will show some leeway at polling stations taking part in the trial and may allow proof of address, such as a utility bill, instead of photo ID.

• Labour's Democracy Petition is here: https://action.labour.org.uk/page/s/democracy

• Details of the initial Voter Id Pilots are here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/voter-id-pilots

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Comments

Quite a clever Tory trick! The number of prosecutions for voter fraud is very low; I have heard figures of around 40. So by making this a national campaign they will achieve the same results that US Republicans achieve with their obsession on making voter registration difficult for those without passports and driving licences. This will reduce the number of potential labour voters, much more than Tories! Clever!