Voter ID “straight out of the Trump playbook” – Broxtowe Lib Dems win vote

Where America leads, the UK follows is an old and sometime true adage. Suppression of voter rights in the United States is becoming rampant as the Republicans push to introduce legislation that would isolate the most disadvantaged from voting. Joe Biden has said: “Never before has there been an attempt by state legislatures to take over the ability to determine who won. Not count the votes, determine who won.”

Here, the government is determined to introduce voter ID despite no evidence of widespread fraud. Broxtowe was a pilot area for voter ID and the Lib Dems have taken a stand.

A motion brought forward by the Liberal Democrat Group on Broxtowe Borough Council on July 21 called on the government to abandon the voter ID proposals. Lib Dem councillor Hannah told members:

We hear about the cuts to Universal Credit and the poverty that people are facing, there are likely to be far higher numbers of people disenfranchised by this legislation. As a Liberal Democrat, this absolutely devastates me.

Fellow Lib Dem councillor David Watts added:

This is straight out of the Trump playbook. It is voter suppression. I am staggered that anybody could think this was a good idea.

The Liberal Democrat motion was passed by 18 votes to 12. It read:

There is no evidence that there is any problem in the United Kingdom with voter impersonation.

In the 2019 local elections where Broxtowe was a pilot area showed that 231 Broxtowe residents were turned away from polling stations for not having the correct ID, and that of these 69 people failed to return later.

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  • Brad Barrows 23rd Jul '21 - 5:39pm

    I have always thought that voters should require to show some form of ID to vote to exercise their right to vote.I am yet to be persuaded that Australia, Canada, France Germany, Israel, Brazil, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, India, Switzerland etc etc are all wrong.

  • Jason Conner 23rd Jul '21 - 6:30pm

    I think voter ID and ID cards are very liberal in enabling citizens to access services. Instead of producing multiple documents why not just have one card and not everyone owns a passport. Many people are already disenfranchised by changes to electoral registration so voter ID will encourage more people to vote which is what democracy is all about. There has been plenty of impersonation in some areas like Tower Hamlets but the opponents choose to ignore it.

  • There aren’t many areas like Tower Hamlets and there is no evidence that personation is a problem. Postal voting fraud happens, and is far easier to organise than personation. If the Government is seriously concerned about the integrity of the electoral process it is there that they should be seeking to remedy the problem, not introducing expensive and cumbersome bureaucracy which will discourage people from taking part in the democratic process.

  • Nonconformistradical 23rd Jul '21 - 6:49pm

    @Jason Conner
    “Instead of producing multiple documents why not just have one card”
    A problem with one card is the potential for theft of all sorts of personal data to the hackers if the card is used as a gateway to services etc.

    I have the impression that all too many organisations – both state and private – have an utterly cavalier attitude towards the security of peoples’ personal data.

    If the card was purely an id card without links to any systems holding personal data – finance, health etc. – it might be acceptable. But also what about id card fraud? There seems to be plenty of fraud ongoing regarding Covid – vaccination certificates, fake test results etc. Fraudulent id cards? Why not?

  • john oundle 23rd Jul '21 - 8:30pm

    ‘This is straight out of the Trump playbook.’

    So numerous countries in Europe & elsewhere were actually ahead of the ‘Trump playbook’ having already introduced these checks! long before Trump.

  • Andrew McCaig 23rd Jul '21 - 9:00pm

    I think the point being made is that:

    1) there is no actual evidence that personation (voting for someone else, the only reason to show ID) occurs to any significant extent in UK elections
    2) The Tories are doing this because they think poorer and less well organised people will not go through the processes necessary to get this photo id, and are also less likely to vote Tory (this may or may not be true these days, but the Tories think it)

    However if the govt was following the lead of most of the countries mentioned above and bringing in a fair voting system, I might respect their motives. But in fact they are restricting preferential voting and going back to FPTP in Mayoral Elections. Everything about this Bill is their to protect Tory interests, not democracy

  • Almost all allegations of voting fraud and ‘irregularities’ in recent years seem to be with postal voting. If there is a genuine problem with personation then a simple solution would be to require voters to provide an arbitrary password when registering to vote and use that to authenticate when voting. I will not under any circumstances have an ID card.

  • George Thomas 23rd Jul '21 - 11:59pm

    “There is no evidence that there is any problem in the United Kingdom with voter impersonation.”

    Such a bizarre point of view in my opinion. Is there a vulnerability to in-person voter fraud? Is the likelihood of it being targeted in future high? Would effect of it happening be significant? Would this ‘solution’ fix this? If the answer is yes then it doesn’t matter whether there is evidence of a problem or not.

    If you think the answer is no then make that point rather than saying it hasn’t happened. If one is open to the suggestion of interference/malpractice in EU referendum then there was no evidence of it happening until it really mattered – can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.

  • Jason Conner 24th Jul '21 - 7:54pm

    Because there are not many areas like Tower Hamlets that’s not a good enough reason not to request voter ID and fraud can take place at individual voting stations not just one area. There is fraud with all kinds of cards so to just say that will apply voter ID is a total misnomer. There is internet fraud but that doesn’t stop people using it. It’s not voter ID that will disenfranchise voters but the already made changes to the electoral system such as householder forms are individual registration. They have already contributed to that but you choose to ignore it.

  • Mark Morris 25th Jul '21 - 7:14am
  • Andrew Tampion 25th Jul '21 - 7:33am

    George Thomas is right to say that it is bizarre to argue that because there is no evidence of current voter fraud that is not a reason to improve the security of election.
    Martin says that low turn out is a bigger problem. Perhaps: but that is no reason not to take steps to reduce the risk of future personation attempts. Also if say 30% of the don’t vote this makes it easier to commit voter fraud. If 100% voters then all cases of personation would be apparent because people attempting to vote would be told that they had already voted.
    Mark Morris is right to draw attention to the fact that some people, for example the partially sighted may need additional assistance if voter ID is introduced. However the RNIB do not actually oppose voter ID but rather ask for additional steps to accomdate the partially sighted.

  • Nonconformistradical 25th Jul '21 - 7:47am

    “If voter impersonation were significant there would be many cases of voters turning up to be told they had already voted. Also there would likely be many cases of impersonators being turned away trying to vote for someone who had already voted.”
    Fair points.

    We have 3 problems, 2 of which involve fraudulent voting:-
    Postal vote fraud – there have been convictions for this and I’m guessing it’s only going to be noticed and investigated when carried out on an industrial scale. So could be tip of iceberg?

    In-person voting fraud – possible but there appears to be little evidence of it being carried out in practice.

    Voter turnout – not great – and especially poor in local elections.

    What might be the cost of dealing with each problem? If resources (time. money, bureaucracy) don’t permit fixing them all at once then which problem should take priority?

  • Jason Conner 27th Jul '21 - 6:13pm

    They’re not 3 separate problems, they are interlinked. I had a postal vote but for various reasons could not send it back in time. So I could’ve voted twice for the Lib Dems using separate polling stations but of course I didn’t. There are flaws in the voting system and voter ID would help make it run more smoothly. Something household forms followed by individual registration, when it was all done on one form before, doesn’t even if you vote online as well as impacting on turn out.

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