.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Councils may have to issue 3.5 million ID cards

An illustration of the impact of proposed UK voter suppression measures is provided in yesterday's Guardian, where it is reported that local authorities could have to issue up to 3.5 million identity cards as part of plans for mandatory voter ID, prompting warnings over potential high costs and disruption for councils.

The government has estimated that only 2 million cards will need to be issued but experience in Northern Ireland indicates that this is an underestimate. They introduced mandatory voter ID in 1985 after sectarian-based attempts to rig elections through multiple votes. When a photo requirement was introduced in 2003, as well as being allowed to use a wide range of existing documents, people could apply for an electoral identity card:

In the first two years of the scheme, about 97,000 cards were issued, with an average of more than 19,000 a year since. Extrapolated to the population of the rest of the UK, this could mean close to 3.5m voter cards being requested at the start of the scheme and almost 700,000 a year after that.

Stuart Wilks-Heeg, an expert on election processes at the University of Liverpool who carried out the analysis, said it would “represent a huge challenge”, particularly as the work would be carried out by under-resourced local election teams.

He said: “The government needs to be clear about how the issuing of such cards will be funded and how common standards of service will be guaranteed for electors across the country.”

The Cabinet Office, which is responsible for elections, notes that the Northern Ireland cards can be used for proof of age and other purposes, whereas the GB ones will not, which will mean demand for them will be lower. It says central government will cover the costs of the scheme, but has not yet said how.

Labour and Conservative council leaders have told the Guardian they have received no information yet on how the voter card scheme will work, or who would pay for it. One Labour leader said: “It’s another case of the government just doing things to us.”

The fact is that many people will not bother applying for these cards, meaning even lower turnouts than at present. There has been no indication who will pick up the tab for the higher administrative and clerical costs that will be incurred by councils, while no thought appears to have been given to the well-being and safety of polling station staff who are likely to end up turning voters away.

This is a solution looking for a problem and so far the only apparent beneficiaries are the Tory Party.
Two points: the government's defence of the scheme is that it was introduced in Northern Ireland by a Labour government.However, this was done against a background of civil conflict and a long history of personation on the island of Ireland as a whole Is the government anticipating a descent into similar conditions in mainland Britain?

Secondly, if they really do rely on local authorities to make up the photo-Id deficit by issuing their own cards, then it must be written into legislation that such cards must be provided within three weeks of application. Thus people without photo-Id who are reminded of the need by the calling of an election have time to obtain it by polling day.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?