From Adrian Ekins-Daukes, Brexorcist in Chief and ex-Conservative from Tunbridge Wells.
Tories open the door to gerrymandering
When the Elections ID Act comes into force this April, there will be controversial changes. One will be that voters will have to prove their identity (ID), for the first time in local elections this May, or be refused a voting slip and be turned away.
The range of ID forms qualifying to the government’s rules is limited. They include: passports and driving licences, bus and other passes for older and disabled persons and an ID ‘PASS’ card currently available. The procedure for obtaining this PASS card is not straightforward, requiring photos, birth certificates and some form of attestation and registration.
Was there a need for this ? Does electoral fraud really threaten our democracy ? The Electoral Commission produces annual reports on this subject :-
In 2021 there were local council elections across Britain in May – many postponed from 2020 – as well as six Parliamentary by-elections. The police investigated 315 cases of alleged electoral fraud, none of which led to a court conviction. In 60% of the cases there were no grounds for taking any further action and 30% further cases were locally resolved. In just one case, a caution was issued.
In 2019 there was a general election, local elections and a European Parliamentary election as well as seven Parliamentary by-elections. The police investigated 595 cases, on which over 60% no further action was taken and a further third were locally resolved. In that year there were four convictions for electoral fraud and two cautions were issued … from 68 MILLION people.
Overall. more than half reported cases concerned campaigning breaches – failure to include required information on campaign literature or making false statements about a candidate.
The figures for 2019 and 2021 are typical of those produced by the Electoral Commission for the whole period 2017-21. They bear out the Commission’s own conclusion that there is no evidence of large-scale electoral fraud in Britain.
As there is no clear need for ID legislation for elections, the government must other reasons for giving it priority at this time of emergency. The choice of acceptable ID proof other than driving licences and passports provides a clear indication, There are numerous free passes for the elderly, who are deemed more likely to vote Conservative,. The disabled are also looked after. But there are almost none suited for younger people, who are less likely to be Torie.. Efforts to widen the choice to include, for example, student ID cards and rail cards were voted down by the Tory majority in the House of Commons. Labour MP Russell Moyle who worked on the legislation at the committee stage has said that “ young people will be discriminated against much worse than older voters,” and that “there is clearly an element of voter discrimination. “ A New York City Councillor has advised that the level of discrimination in this Act is worse than that practiced in any US state.
The estimated cost of implementing this legislation over the next 10 years is £180m – this at a time of austerity and hardship caused to a considerable degree by Tory dogma and incompetence. But for today’s Tories, power by any means is the overwhelming priority. In comparison, the interests of our country, the health of our businesses, the well-being of people are of little. consequence. Respect for democracy counts for even less.
As well as legalised voter suppression, the same legislation will remove the independence of the Electoral Commission, placing it under Government control. This opens the door to all forms of malpractice. It is our own Government, not a handful of minor offenders, who are the real enemies to our democracy. We need to fight if we want to keep it.