GOVERNMENT plans to demand photographic ID be shown at polling stations in order for people to vote have been supported by the area’s Tory MPs despite no cases of electoral fraud locally in the past decade.
Evesham’s MP Nigel Huddleston and Pershore’s MP Harriett Baldwin backed the Government’s proposals which formed part of the Conservative manifesto at the 2019 General Election.
That’s despite a Freedom of Information request from the Observer which has revealed no cases of electoral fraud reported to or identified by Wychavon District Council in the past 11 years, a period covering four General Elections and three district council polls.
Under the plans put forward by ministers, voters would have to show official identification at polling stations before being allowed to cast their vote. Valid ID would include a driving license or passport.
Initial proposals were first put forward by former Prime Minister Theresa May but have been taken forward by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a bid to tackle electoral fraud.
Campaign group the Electoral Reform Society have and warned the proposals risked leaving tens of thousands of legitimate voters without a voice.
Figures from the group show 3.5 million UK residents do not have access to photo ID and 11 million do not have a passport or driving licence. In response the Government has said those without a passport or driving licence would get a free-of-charge ‘local electoral identity document’.
Mr Huddleston said: “The public must have confidence our elections are secure and fit for the 21st century and we must treat electoral fraud as a crime we must tackle. You need ID to check out a library book or pick up a parcel, so I don’t think it is too much to ask to also confirm who you are when deciding who runs the government.
“Under the Government’s proposals, anyone without an ID can apply for a new free one – meaning that no voter will be disenfranchised.
“My ministerial colleagues have assured me they will continue to work with the Electoral Commission, charities and civil society organisations to make sure reforms are delivered in a way which is inclusive for all voters and ensure everyone who is eligible to vote will have the opportunity to do so,” he added.
Mrs Baldwin said: “I’m delighted the Observer has confirmed no cases of electoral fraud at every poll since I was first elected in 2010.
“Identification to vote has been backed by the Electoral Commission and international election watchdogs. At present, it is harder to take out a library book or collect a parcel at a post office than it is to vote in someone else’s name.
“Pilot schemes have been successfully carried out in elections in 2018 and 2019 and I am reassured the Government is putting appropriate measures in place to make sure no one is disenfranchised.”