Millions of people may be disenfranchised by the government’s plans to trial asking for ID in order to vote, Labour has said. Cat Smith, Labour’s shadow minister for voter engagement, raised concerns that 7.5% of the electorate may not have the right kind of identification in order to exercise their right to vote. “Labour supports measures to tackle electoral fraud and will be backing a number of the reasonable proposals planned by the government,” she said on Tuesday. “However, requiring voters to produce specific forms of photo ID risks denying millions of electors a vote. “A year ago the Electoral Commission reported that 3.5 million electors – 7.5% of the electorate – would have no acceptable piece of photo ID. Under the government’s proposals, these voters would either be denied a vote entirely, or in other trial areas, required to produce multiple pieces of ID, ‘one from group A, one from group B’.
“The government should be doing all it can to encourage lawful voting and ensure a high turnout, not putting extra hurdles in the way. The plans for photo ID are like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut, potentially denying a vote to millions.”
Smith’s comments came after former London mayor Ken Livingstone said the proposed measures would be a barrier for people who had no driving licence or passport.
The veteran politician also suggested there could be an element of gerrymandering to help the Conservatives’ electoral aims because the demand for ID would “hit the poorest” who might never have applied for a passport or driving licence. “That, I suspect, like the decision last year to knock a lot of people off the electoral register, is going to hit the Labour party,” he said.