Boris Johnson’s Government has been accused of “blatant election rigging” after leaked plans to introduce compulsory photo ID for voters emerged. The plans are expected to be revealed in today’s Queen’s Speech, due to go ahead at the state Opening of Parliament at 11.30am.
The proposals will reportedly be contained in a new Electoral Integrity Bill, and will seek to curb electoral fraud.
The bill will also limit the number of relatives any one person can act as a proxy, and outlaw the ‘harvesting’ of postal ballots by parties and activists.
But critics have accused the Conservative Party of “suspicious motives”, given the number of attempts at electoral fraud is tiny.
The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) reported that out of millions of votes cast in the UK last year, there were just eight allegations of personation fraud.
Personation fraud is what photo ID is meant to prevent, by forcing voters to show ID such as a driver’s license or passport.
The ERS also said 3.5 million voters don’t have access to photo ID, meaning the scheme would deny millions the right to vote.
Darren Hughes, the chief executive of the ERS, said: “When millions of people lack photo ID, these mooted plans risk raising the drawbridge to huge numbers of marginalised voters – including many elderly and BAME voters.
“The Government have sat on their hands in the face of the actual threats to electoral integrity: anonymous ‘dark ads’, dodgy donations and disinformation.
Sir Simon Woolley, the founder of Operation Black Vote, described the voter ID proposals as “troubling and disappointing, not least because the case hasn’t been proven on voter fraud”.
He said: “The case has not been made for voter fraud, and so people are suspicious it’s for other motives.”
This is not the first time voter ID has been proposed – it was trailed during May’s local elections this year to disastrous results.
According to Electoral Commission figures, more than 700 people were denied a vote in trials in 10 council wards.
Figures showed of the 1,968 people who were initially refused a ballot paper for not having the necessary ID, 740 did not return, indicating they were denied a vote.
That suggested the number of people denied a vote outnumbered the scale of alleged voter fraud in the whole UK last year by a factor of almost 100, the ERS said.
The proposed roll-out is likely to be opposed by the Labour Party.
However, the Government will insist changes are needed to safeguard against fraud and corruption.
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.”