Election ID laws to come into play despite just two voter fraud convictions in five years
Legislation mandating voter ID for elections in Great Britain passed through the House of Lords on Tuesday and will be in force by next May. The law was introduced in order to combat voter fraud, yet rates of the crime are extremely low while public confidence in the current electoral system is high.
Campaign organisations have highlighted the potential negative consequences for groups less likely to possess photo ID, while the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned the rollout timeframe may be too short to implement the changes securely.
Back in April, Parliament passed the Elections Act 2022, a bill containing a range of electoral reforms seeking to “improve the security, accessibility and transparency of elections and campaigning.”
The Act contained a provision for enhanced voter ID laws – requiring photographic ID to be issued voting papers at the ballot box.
On Monday of last week, the secondary legislation detailing the scheme was put forward, guaranteeing it be in place ahead of the next round of elections taking place in May 2023.
Common practice in Northern Ireland since 2003, the new rules will have a large impact on those voting across Great Britain in Westminster, local elections in England, and Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales.
The Government first considered the plans six years ago, insisting then, as now, that ID requirements were vital to clamp down on voter fraud. The Cabinet Office cites “inexcusable potential for someone to cast another’s vote at the polling station.”
Overall, between 2017 and 2021, there were 382 allegations of voting-related fraud, but just two resulted in conviction.