New figures released by the Electoral Commission show the case for imposing mandatory voter ID is ‘getting weaker by the day’, according to the ERS .
Of the 266 cases investigated by police, more than half (140) were campaigning offences and just one in five (57) related to complaints made about the voting process.
Personation fraud at the polling station – the crime of pretending to be someone else at the ballot box, which is what the government’s continuing voter ID pilots aim to address – accounted for just eight of the 266 allegations made last year. No further action was taken for seven of these allegations and one was locally resolved.
The Commission found ‘no evidence of large-scale electoral fraud’ relating to the 2018 electoral cycle.
As of 1st March 2019, there has been just one conviction for voter fraud since January 2018, after a candidate was found to have forged signatures on his nomination form so he could stand in an election. There have been two police cautions issued for other electoral fraud offences.
Of the remaining cases, 191 needed no further action and 55 were resolved locally. 17 cases are awaiting advice from the Crown Prosecution Service or are still under investigation.
Darren Hughes, Chief Executive, Electoral Reform Society said:
“These figures show that the government’s continued obsession with mandatory voter ID remains a solution looking for a problem. The already-flimsy case for making it harder to vote is getting weaker by the day.
“As the Electoral Commission make clear, there is no evidence of widespread electoral fraud in the UK. Rather than using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, the government should deal with the real democratic problems we face.
“Despite most electoral offences being committed by parties rather than voters, it is innocent voters who lose out when the government locks ordinary people out of democracy – and millions risk being excluded from our politics because of this dangerous voter ID policy.
“The proposed changes to voter ID laws that are being trialled by the government are not just unnecessary but ill thought-out. Ministers should scrap this policy before wasting any more time on this costly and dangerous distraction.”
Voter ID pilots are due to take place in 10 local authorities and will require voters to present personal identification before casting their ballot. The participating areas are: Braintree District Council, Broxtowe Borough Council, Craven District Council, Derby City Council, Mid-Sussex District Council, North Kesteven District Council, North-West Leicestershire District Council, Pendle Borough Council, Watford Borough Council, and Woking Borough Council.
East Staffordshire and Ribble Valley were originally due to take part in the trials but pulled out citing the scale of work involved: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/voter-id-local-election-pilot-scheme-high-court-challenge-council-a8780776.html
Research by the Cabinet Office following the 2018 voter ID pilots showed that implementing mandatory voter ID across Great Britain could cost up to £20m per general election – over £700,000 per allegation of polling station fraud made in 2017: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/733128/Electoral_Integrity_Project_-_Local_Elections_2018_-_Evaluation.pdf
During the 2018 voter ID trials, 350 people were denied a vote in their local council elections for not possessing the right ID – in a single day across the five councils, twice as many people didn’t vote due to having incorrect ID as have been accused of personation in eight years across the whole of the UK.
More information on the 2019 voter ID pilots is available on the government’s website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/voter-id-pilots-for-local-elections-in-may-2019
Notes to Editors