Cllr Jim Dickson is the Cabinet Member for the Voluntary Sector & Partnerships (job share), and is a councillor in Herne Hill ward.
In his first Queen’s Speech, Boris Johnson proposed an Election Integrity Bill, which would force voters to show their ID to prove who they are in upcoming elections. This would unfairly target BAME, older, trans and more deprived residents from their right to vote and make their voices heard. Plans for Voter ID laws would come into place after the next election if the Tories are returned to power in the December election.
The government’s claim is that this measure is in place to prevent the potential for electoral fraud, but this is clearly not the truth considering that there were 45 million people registered to vote in parliamentary elections in 2017 and only one report of electoral fraud resulted in a conviction. With many people in the UK not having a form of photo ID, such as a passport of driving licence, around 7% of the electorate (around 3.5 million citizens) are at risk of being denied a vote. Unlike in mainland Europe where everyone has a mandatory national ID card, in the UK the richer you are the more likely you have ID. Many citizens who can’t afford to go on holidays abroad don’t have passports, and those that can’t drive don’t have driving licences. During the first pilot that the government ran, about 2,000 people from 10 areas were turned away at polling stations.
One solution from the government to tackle the issue of disenfranchisement was through introducing a free photographic ID, to be issued by local councils, at the cost of up to £20m at every election. With local council budgets crippled by austerity, this would be an impossible ask and a waste of resources that could be sent on other services, such as services for vulnerable young people or care for elderly residents. This government clearly finds vanity projects such as this more important than funding our NHS sustainably or taking care of the most vulnerable in our society.
Cllr Jim Dickson