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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

750 people denied a vote by ID pilot

The Guardian reports that About 750 people were denied a vote at May’s local elections because of a controversial trial scheme to oblige people in some areas to show ID before casting a ballot.

A study by the Electoral Commission found up to 2,083 people were initially turned away for not having the necessary ID with them, and as many as 758 never returned. As a proportion of all votes cast this ranged from 0.7% in two areas, Craven and Pendle, to 0.03% in Mid Sussex:

While ministers have said compulsory voter ID is necessary to avoid fraud, critics say there is little evidence of voter impersonation, while ID requirements can particularly put off more vulnerable groups such as older people or those with disabilities. The report said charities that had raised concerns about the scheme represented people with learning disabilities, as well as those without a fixed address, and the BAME, LGBT, and Gypsies and traveller communities.

The commission said that in Derby, one of the trial areas, there was a strong correlation between the numbers of people denied a vote in particular wards and the proportion of that ward’s population who were from an Asian background. However, in Pendle this correlation was much weaker, it said.

The study said that overall it was impossible to draw definitive conclusions from the pilots – an initial trial in five areas took place at the 2018 local elections – about what might happen if they were used nationally or particularly at a general election, where a much greater range of people would be taking part.

While the trials showed the schemes seemed to make people believe the voting process was more secure, a series of factors would need to be considered, including what sort of ID was needed.

The study also said opinion polls among people who did not vote showed 1% of them said it was because they did not have the right ID. These findings and the concerns about access to ID among some groups “raise questions about the effects of an ID requirement at future elections”, the report said.

Once more, there is no evidence to support this trial, but it is succeeding in suppressing votes. Was that the intention all along?
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