…By Henry George for TDPel Media.
Campaigners have reported numerous incidents of individuals being turned away from polling stations during the first elections where photo identification is required to vote.
The Electoral Reform Society, which has strongly opposed the introduction of the new law, urged ministers to reconsider as voters headed to the polls in England for the local elections.
The Association of Electoral Administrators, however, stated that the polls were running as usual. The council and mayoral elections marked the first time in England that identification from a defined list was necessary to cast a vote.
The introduction of the policy has faced criticism from Labour, among others, who warn that it could prevent millions from voting.
On Thursday, Conservative MP for Southend West Anna Firth reminded people not to forget their identification as she had to go back to her car to retrieve hers in order to vote.
The Electoral Reform Society’s director of policy and research, Jess Garland, has stated that there are already numerous examples of individuals being denied their right to vote due to the new laws.
Some people were turned away for having the wrong type of photo identification or not resembling their photo.
Garland emphasised that any person turned away is one too many and urged the government to consider the harm that the new rules cause to elections.
The Association of Electoral Administrators reported no major issues in the early afternoon, stating that the polls were running as smoothly as usual.
It noted, however, that it might not hear about individual voters who were turned away.
Chief Executive Peter Stanyon commented that the successful running of the polls was a testament to months of planning and hard work from returning officers and electoral administrators.
The Electoral Commission has tasked councils with recording the number of individuals turned away from polling stations for not having the appropriate photo identification.
The watchdog plans to publish its initial findings in the coming weeks.
Greeting staff outside polling stations who turn people away will not be recorded.
The government estimates that roughly 4% of Britain’s population, or two million people, may not have a valid form of photo identification to vote. The policy will require photo identification in future general elections in England.
Analysis and Commentaries:
The mandatory use of photo identification has been a contentious issue in the UK.
Those who support the policy believe that it can reduce the risk of voter fraud, while others argue that it could prevent many from exercising their right to vote.
According to the Electoral Reform Society, there is a risk of exclusion for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, low-income individuals, and ethnic minorities who may not possess the required form of identification.
Furthermore, it is argued that voter fraud is rare in the UK and that the cost of implementing photo identification outweighs the benefits.
The requirement for photo identification in the local elections in England is a significant development that could pave the way for mandatory identification in future elections.
The policy will affect individuals who do not have a valid form of photo identification, which could disproportionately impact certain communities.
While the Association of Electoral Administrators has noted the smooth running of the elections, it is unclear how many individuals were turned away and whether this will affect the outcome of the elections.
The Electoral Commission has been tasked with monitoring the impact of the policy and reporting on its findings.
The government has estimated that two million people may not have a valid form of photo identification to vote, which could have a significant impact on the democratic process.
The policy’s long-term implications and potential impact on voter turnout will be closely monitored, and the debate over the use of photo identification in future elections will undoubtedly continue.