Damning report finds that UK’s discriminatory voter ID rules discriminated

Kiran Stacey and Peter Walker writing for The Guardian

Controversial rules governing voter identification led to racial and disability discrimination at this year’s local elections in England, according to a damning report co-written by one of the former ministers responsible for introducing them.

MPs and peers on the all-party parliamentary group on democracy and the constitution will publish a report on Monday saying the rules caused more harm than they prevented when they came into force in May, and will call for changes, including the acceptance of a greater range of ID documents.

Writing for Voice Magazine back in May during the local elections, I stated that “the government’s voter ID rules are a direct attack on young people”. The selection of valid ID actively excluded many forms of photographic ID that are available to young people, even as the senior equivalents were accepted. For example, the Oyster 60+ Card was valid, the 18+ student card was not.

And this wasn’t an oversight, it was a deliberate choice. The government voted down a House of Lords amendment to include youth forms of ID.

Returning to The Guardian story:

An interim study published by the Electoral Commission earlier this year found at least 14,000 people had been denied a vote because they lacked the correct form of ID.


“A disproportionate number of electors who were not permitted to vote appeared to be non-white passing. By contrast, all of those who were observed being permitted to vote without presenting ID were white-passing.”

Again, it’s hard to view this as anything other than intended behaviour. It was truly galling just how transparent the government’s motives were in forcing through rules that the report described as a “poisoned cure” – one that harmed more of the electorate than it protected.  In the past seven years, only 3 people have been convicted of identity fraud at polling stations.

I wrote yesterday on the report that young people are less enthused about democracy than older people, this is yet another example why.

I’ll leave you with the statistic that voters aged 65 and above have an average turnout rate of 73.81%, while voters aged 18-24 have a turnout rate of only 55.74%.