Joint Committee on Human Rights investigates voter ID plans

Josiah Mortimer, former Head of Communications

Posted on the 1st June 2021

The ERS’ Dr Jess Garland gave evidence to Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights on Wednesday 26 May, on the government’s mandatory voter ID plans announced in the Queen’s Speech.

Watch it in full here.

On the panel were:

  • Dr Jessica Garland, Director of Policy and Research, Electoral Reform Society
  • Professor Toby James, Professor of Politics and Public Policy, University of East Anglia
  • Baron Woolley of Woodford, Operation Black Vote (OBV)

Jess told the Committee that, in the absence of universal ID possession, voter ID plans here look a lot like US voter suppression efforts.

“We’re looking at a [photo ID] proposal here that’s stricter than many US states, where we’e seen these proposals have a dramatic impact on equality. It’s an outcome we need to avoid at all costs,” Jess told MPs.

According to the government’s own data, 27% of those without any form of ID said it would mandatory ID would make them less likely to vote. Millions of people lack photo ID in the UK.

Committee members urged ministers to focus on the real problems in Britain’s elections – including the nine million missing from the electoral roll, through introducing automatic voter registration.

Operation Black Vote’s Lord Simon Woolley noted that the government has not undertaken an equality impact assessment of mandatory voter ID. Equality campaigners are launching a judicial review to challenge this.

Lord Woolley added that tens or hundreds of thousands of people could be locked out of the ballot box if those who have no ID are barred from voting.

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