Voter ID plans branded ‘deeply flawed’ ahead of local elections
Ministers' controversial Voter ID plans have been branded as "deeply flawed" by the Electoral Reform Society, only days before their trial at the local elections.
With pilot projects planned in Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford and Woking, the campaign group warned the new system could be part of a "calculated effort" to make voting harder for some citizens.
The Cabinet Office maintains that nobody will need to buy new ID in order to vote. But a recently-leaked letter from the Equality and Human Rights Commission argues that the changes could have a disproportionate impact on voters from minority groups, who are less likely to have the required documentation.
Darren Hughes of the Electoral Reform Society likened mandatory voter ID to using "a sledgehammer to crack a nut".
He added: "It's time for an evidence-based approach instead. With millions of people lacking the right photographic ID - and no government plans for a universal, free alternative - this can only mean another barrier for honest voters."
Cat Smith, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, said ministers had been warned "time and time again that restrictive Voter ID requirements will make it harder for people to vote".
She added: "By ignoring these concerns, the Tories appear more determined to exclude people from the democratic process. Labour wants everyone’s voices to be heard in the local elections next Thursday, which is why we are calling on the Government to abandon these dangerous pilots."
Changes to Voter ID laws were initially proposed by Conservative grandee Sir Eric Pickles in response to the 2015 Tower Hamlets election court judgment. His plan called for stronger checks against municipal corruption, and a clamp-down on postal vote “harvesting”.