Campaign groups handed in nearly 300,000 petition signatures to 10 Downing Street on Tuesday, calling for the government to scrap plans to ban those without ID from voting.
The petition delivery took place as Parliament debated the controversial Elections Bill in its second reading in the Commons.
#HandsOffOurVote, the Electoral Reform Society, Fair Vote, 38 Degrees and MyLifeMySay all joined together to oppose the voter ID plans, which could see more than two million people who lack photo ID locked out of the ballot box. And those are the government’s figures – not ours.
Polling by YouGov for Hands Off Our Vote showed that five percent of disabled people don’t have the ID required, while people in the North of England are seven times less likely to have photo ID than Londoners.
Councils will be required to offer special voter ID to people ahead of elections – but with more than 300 over-stretched councils operating the scheme, we’re deeply concerned about long delays and a postcode lottery in access to democracy.
Jack McAteer, a co-founder of grassroots voting rights group #HandsOffOurVote, said: “We believe that the government should make voting easier, not harder. Many people in the UK simply don’t have photo ID and it’s not free. This is going to create obstacles for many many already disenfranchised groups, including BAME voters, disabled people, homeless people, and the elderly.”
The ERS’ Dr Jess Garland said mandatory ID was “the biggest change to voting in generations,” which “poses a huge risk to democratic equality.”
There is no evidence to justify the government’s heavy-handed ID plan, which could disenfranchise voters on an industrial scale.
At the bill’s second reading in the Commons on Tuesday, Conservative MP David Davis vowed to try and remove the ID requirements at report stage. “This voter ID scheme is an illiberal idea in pursuit of a non-existent problem,” Mr Davis said – a point the Conservative chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee said he had a ‘great deal of sympathy’ with.
It’s vital that all MPs and peers listen to the concerns being raised, stand up for the right to vote, ensure ministers stop and rethink this dangerous legislation.
Thank you to the 56,000 of you who signed our ERS petition – now with No 10 – calling for the ID plans to be scrapped.
We’re now working hard with other civil society groups to pause this bill, and secure urgent amendments that protect the right to vote. Can you support our efforts?
Join the ERS today