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Voters ‘to be forced to show photo ID’ under new government plans

Queens Speech: Voters will be forced to show photographic ID at polling stations

  • At the moment voters do not need to show ID in order to vote in elections in UK
  • Government today announced a crackdown on voter fraud in Queen’s Speech
  • Plan will place legal requirement on voters to show ID before they can cast ballot
  • Labour accused the Tories of a ‘blatant attempt to rig result of the next election’ 

All voters will be legally required to show photographic identification before they are allowed to vote at future elections under plans announced by the government today. 

Boris Johnson used the Queen’s Speech to set out his intention to introduce an Electoral Integrity Bill.

The draft legislation would spell the end of people being able to vote simply by stating their address when they visit a polling station.

The government believes the move to photo ID is necessary in order to make the UK’s electoral system watertight and to crackdown on voter fraud. 

However, the Labour Party said the move was nothing less than an attempt by the Tories to ‘rig the result of the next general election’. 

An overhaul of the voting system has been in the works for a while after a review by Sir Eric Pickles, published in August 2016, suggested there was a need for the introduction of ID. 

Voters at future elections will have to provide photographic ID before they can cast their ballot under proposals put forward by the government

Sir Eric’s report said: ‘The most significant issue in relation to polling stations though is whether electors should be required to provide identification before being allowed to vote. 

‘Trust has been an enduring factor in British elections for many decades. But a number of commentators now point to the potential for significant abuse if people can commit personation at polling stations with little risk of detection. 

‘It is harder to take out a municipal library book than it is to vote in a polling station administered by the same council.’   

Ten voter ID pilots were undertaken in May of this year and the Electoral Commission concluded that a large number of people would ‘not have a problem’ with complying with the requirement. 

However, it also found that such a system ‘would not be accessible for everyone’ and ‘some groups of people would find it harder than others to show photo ID in a polling station’.  

It is thought that the government’s Bill will require people to provide a driving licence or passport in order to be able to vote.

Those people who do not have an acceptable form of ID could potentially be asked to apply for a free voter ID from their local council.

The Telegraph also reported that the Bill will make it illegal for any one person to cast a proxy vote on behalf of more than two voters. 

A government source said: ‘A secure electoral system is vital. By changing the law to require voters to show some ID, as they do in many other daily activities, and taking steps to cut down proxy and postal voter fraud, we can ensure that everyone’s vote counts and strengthen public trust in our democracy.’

But Labour suggested the government was trying to solve a problem which does not really exist and that the photo ID requirement would harm democracy. 

The proposals contained within the Electoral Integrity Bill will form part of Boris Johnson's first Queen's Speech as he sets out his government's priorities. He is pictured as he had a flu jab in Downing Street this morning

The proposals contained within the Electoral Integrity Bill will form part of Boris Johnson’s first Queen’s Speech as he sets out his government’s priorities. He is pictured as he had a flu jab in Downing Street this morning

Cat Smith, Labour’s shadow minister for voter engagement, said: ‘Voter ID is a blatant attempt by the Tories to rig the result of the next general election.

‘We will not allow the Tories to shut down our democracy by making it harder for people to vote.’ 

Mr Johnson does not currently have a majority in the House of Commons which means all of the draft laws proposed in today’s Queen’s Speech will come with a large asterisk. 

The likely only way for the Electoral Integrity Bill to make it onto the statute book is therefore if Mr Johnson wins a majority at a snap general election which could take place before the end of the year.