Opinion: Voter ID is a 'solution looking for a problem'

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Never have I seen a scheme more designed to deprive people of their right to vote than the Tory Voter ID law kicking in this month.

Citizens will now need to prove who they are with photographic documentation or else be turned away from the polling station.

A report by the Electoral Commission has warned that the move could hit people from poorer areas the hardest- as well as the disabled and those from ethnic backgrounds.

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And how convenient that most of the individuals likely to be refused won’t be supporters of the Conservative Party.

Falkirk MP John McNally. Pic: ContributedFalkirk MP John McNally. Pic: Contributed
Falkirk MP John McNally. Pic: Contributed

The voter ID rules will be used in an election in Scotland for the first time during the Rutherglen and Hamilton West vote. The fears are that this anti-democratic law could change the voting pattern of a whole constituency. I believe that voting is everyone’s democratic right and to potentially block it, or make it difficult, is totally unacceptable.

The justification for this change of rules is that it will combat electoral fraud. But the levels of people cheating during voting is so low that there is simply no need for it.

In 2019 out of 58 million votes cast in the UK there were just 33 claims of fraud at polling stations.

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A study by the Electoral Commission has found there was scant evidence of the voter fraud that Tory ministers claim the policy is designed to stamp out.

MP John McNally has voiced his concerns about the introduction of voter ID. Pic: ContributedMP John McNally has voiced his concerns about the introduction of voter ID. Pic: Contributed
MP John McNally has voiced his concerns about the introduction of voter ID. Pic: Contributed

The Commission has also warned that there could be thousands of voters turned away at the next general election for not having the required ID.

At a recent by-election in England , pressed for time nurses, rushing to vote, were turned away at polling stations after thinking their NHS I.D badges would suffice.

They were not accepted.

There have been calls for the types of photo ID asked for to be expanded. There is still confusion over what documents you should bring to the polling station with you.

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Willie Sullivan, director of the Electoral Reform Society Scotland, has accurately called the new rules a "solution looking for a problem”.

And even former Tory minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has referred to the requirements as “gerrymandering".

I believe it's an unnecessary complication created to make thousands of citizens less likely to be able to vote against the Tory Party.

Get prepared. Remind friends and family of what’s required and if you can, help older people and younger voters to look out any documents they need. You can find details of the photo identification – and what to do if you don’t have any – at electoralcommission.org.uk.

No one should be turned away while exercising their right to vote. This is an assault on our democratic way of life and this new rule should never have seen the light of day.