Politics

Boris Johnson warned election ID plan will be ‘sledgehammer’ blow to political engagement


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oris Johnson has been warned his plans to require voters to show ID in order to cast their ballot risk taking a “sledgehammer to political engagement” in the country.

A group of 17 civil society groups called for the Prime Minister to drop the plans, arguing they would pull up the drawbridge for millions of voters who lack photographic ID and turn polling station workers into “de facto bouncers”.

The Government has argued the plans, included in the Queen’s Speech, are necessary to prevent the “inexcusable potential” for voter fraud.

However, representatives from organisations including the Electoral Reform Society, Stonewall, Liberty Operation Black Vote and the National Union of Students called for a rethink.

They said the plans could cost £20 million per general election and 3.5 million people currently lack photographic ID.

“As the Government has often made clear, voting is safe and secure in the UK – making mandatory voter ID a solution in search of a problem,” the groups said.

“Instead, these proposals will turn polling workers into de facto bouncers – a role they do not want to have and which raises its own risks of discretion and discrimination.

“Our democracy is already deeply unequal, with millions missing from the electoral roll and with major gaps in turnout between groups.

“We need to be revitalising our democracy – not taking a sledgehammer to political engagement.

“Rather than inventing bogeymen and scare stories, ministers should focus on the real priorities facing our democracy.”

Details of acceptable forms of ID have not yet been set out but a free council-issued “local voter card” will be available, Downing Street has said.

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