Boris Johnson has been accused of trying to rig democracy (Image: VICKIE FLORES/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
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Boris Johnson’s plan to demand photo ID at polling stations could “disenfranchise thousands”, a Tory former Cabinet Minister has said.
Ex-Brexit Secretary David Davis warned the Elections Bill being pushed through Parliament was an “illogical and illiberal solution to a non-existent problem.
And he said: “Voter ID will potentially disenfranchise thousands of people.”
Turnout at elections plummeted after a similar requirement was introduced in Northern Ireland in 2003.
And there is no evidence of widespread in-person voter fraud – the only kind which would be tackled by the measure – happening in the UK.
Yet the Government claimed potentially disenfranchising thousands of legitimate voters would “strengthen UK democracy”.
At the last general election in 2019, 595 cases of alleged electoral fraud were investigated by police, according to the Electoral Commission.
Four led to a conviction and two people were given a police caution, and the commission said: "The UK has low levels of proven electoral fraud."
Former Cabinet Minister David Davis
But Shadow Democracy Minister Cat Smith said: "Voting is safe and secure in Britain. Ministers should be promoting confidence in our elections instead of spreading baseless scare stories which threaten our democracy – this Trumpian tactic has no place in our democracy.
"We've already seen how Conservative ministers ignore the rules, now they are trying to change the rules and rig our democracy in their favour."
Ministers insist anyone who doesn’t have ID would be able to apply for a locally provided voter ID card.
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But Representatives from organisations including the Electoral Reform Society, Stonewall, Liberty, Operation Black Vote and the National Union of Students have demanded a rethink.
They said the plans could cost £20 million per general election and 3.5 million people currently lack photographic ID.
The government faces a supreme court challenge over their voter ID pilots – a case which will not be heard until January.
Government figures show 1 million don't have ID and new law could put 2.3m off voting
Labour warned that the Government could be forcing a potentially unlawful policy through Parliament.
Under the legislation, party campaigners will be banned from handling postal votes and postal vote "harvesting" will be banned by limiting the number of votes that a person may hand in on behalf of others.
It will become an offence for a person to attempt to find out or reveal who an absent voter has chosen to vote for.
Constitution minister Chloe Smith said: "Our democracy is precious, and to continue to protect it, we need to update our laws to ensure they are fit for purpose and in line with the modern world.”