A Liberal party push to roll out voter identification laws across Australia has sparked warnings that the move would make it harder for disadvantaged groups to have their say at the ballot box. Party delegates at the Liberal federal council meeting in Melbourne at the weekend passed a motion calling on Coalition governments at all levels to change the law to ensure people must present identification containing a name and residential address when voting. The resolution, passed resoundingly after it was promoted as a “sensible” way to prevent electoral fraud, indicates a mood for such changes within the Liberal party but is not binding on the federal or state Coalition governments.
It adds to momentum for changes at a national level, with the special minister of state, Michael Ronaldson, having already asked the joint standing committee on electoral matters to consider voter identification at polling places.
The Queensland government has passed voter ID laws through state parliament in May, despite warnings from community groups that it was an “expensive policy response to a problem that does not exist” and that it would further marginalise Indigenous voters.
The federal MP Clive Palmer, whose Palmer United party will play an influential role in the new Senate, backed the push for voter ID laws as an example of the Liberal party following his lead, after his outspoken criticism of the electoral system last year.