Voter ID is a ‘gerrymandering scheme’ suggests Jacob Rees-Mogg

Doug Cowan, Head of Digital

Posted on the 16th May 2023

We still don’t have the full picture of how many people were stripped of their right to vote in May’s local elections in England.

We’ve long warned that this unnecessary policy would be a messy and expensive distraction – posing a real risk that genuine voters would lose their democratic right to vote.

This week, two pieces of evidence have emerged that back up our fear. Firstly, some Councils have slowly started publishing some numbers, and they make for shocking reading.

In Walsall, 1240 were turned away, 473 returned with ID, so 767 didn’t get to cast their vote. In Bradford 1261 were turned away , 763 returned, 498 didn’t get to vote.

But these figures only give a partial picture. They don’t include those who turned back outside, or were reminded about the new rules as they queued and they don’t capture anyone who had heard about the scheme and decided it simply wasn’t worth heading down to the polling station as they knew they lacked the ID the government was demanding.

We’ve long said that people pretending to be each other at polling stations is not a major issue in the UK, where our elections are generally well-run. In 2019, the last year with a full general election, there was one conviction and one caution for impersonation nationally.

Secondly, in a startling admission, Jacob Rees-Mogg – who until recently was a government minister defending this policy – shared his views on what he thought Voter ID was meant to achieve versus his concerns at what actually happened. Click to watch what he had to say below.

Former minister Jacob Rees-Mogg speaking at the National Conservatism conference on the 15th May 2023

Jacob Rees-Mogg said:

“Parties that try and gerrymander end up finding their clever scheme comes back to bite them – as dare I say we found by insisting on voter ID for elections.”

“We found the people who didn’t have ID were elderly and they by and large voted Conservative, so we made it hard for our own voters and we upset a system that worked perfectly well”

Earlier in the conference, Lord Peter Crudas listed abolishing voter ID alongside extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds, and making all votes count as things that would stop the Conservatives winning an outright majority in future.

Whatever the government say in public, it’s clear that many people in the government saw voter ID as something that was supposed to give them an advantage.

We can’t risk these rules being in place for a general election – the government need to u-turn and repeal this legislation.

Add your name: Say no to voter ID

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