In a first for an Australian general election, when Queenslanders head to the polls on January 31 they’ll need more than loose change for the sausage sizzle and cake stalls – they now also need to bring proof of identity. … Since passing the voter ID rules last year, as part of a suite of big changes to Queensland electoral laws, the state government has gone quiet on the issue. It has also had relatively little coverage in the media, meaning few Queenslanders even realise the rules have changed. Late last week, an Electoral Commission Queensland spokesperson said that “no-one who turns up to vote without ID will be turned away” and that voter information letters will be posted out this week, ready to scan at polling booths as a fast form of proof of identity.
While Queensland is the only part of Australia to bring in ID rules for voting, the move brings it into line with many other countries. But in many of those places, it’s a measure that is meeting with growing scepticism.
In Canada, changes to its vouching provision – wherein one voter could “vouch” for another without identification – were controversial. More than 120,000 citizens were deemed likely to be adversely affected.
In the US, many people question the fairness of ID laws, particularly its effect on voter turnout. Evidence supports the fact that an ID requirement places a considerable burden on certain groups of people – the poor, homeless, First Nations citizens and the elderly – with little to no benefit.