Labour have slammed plans to reform the voting system to prevent a repeat of the massive fraud which led to Birmingham being called a “banana republic”. Harriet Harman, the party’s deputy leader, said the proposed changes were a Tory plot to stop people voting. She was speaking at Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool, which ended yesterday.
The Government wants to change the rules following a high-profile court case in 2005 when Judge Richard Mawrey said election cheating in Birmingham would “disgrace a banana republic”, as he dealt with five Labour councillors guilty of vote rigging.
The Electoral Commission, the official body responsible for overseeing elections, called for an end to household registration, which allows one person to fill a form demanding polling cards for a number of people.
Under the new plans, every voter will need to fill in their own form, with personal details so that their identities can be checked. But the Electoral Commission has also warned that millions of people will lose the right to vote because they simply won’t bother to register.
Concerns have also been raised about plans to let people “opt out” of the register if they do not want to be included.
Ms Harman claimed: “The Lib Dems – to their eternal shame – are colluding with the Tories in changing the law on the electoral register.
“The plans the Tories have set out are going to push people off the electoral register – deny them their vote, deny them their voice. The numbers are going to be huge.