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Latest 11 September 2023

MPs find discrimination at polling stations and declare voter ID risks ‘injustice’

Amer Ghazzal / Alamy Stock Photo

Cross-party group says election officials took action that was ‘clearly discriminatory’, and calls for more forms of ID to be accepted

MPs and peers have found that polling officials denied a woman’s right to vote “purely on the basis of circumstances which arose as a direct result of a disability” – an outcome they branded “clearly discriminatory” and “potentially unlawful”.

The report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy and the Constitution also cited evidence that a “disproportionate number of electors who were not permitted to vote appeared to be non-white passing” and that “all of those who were observed being permitted to vote without presenting ID” passed as white.

The group called voter ID a “poisoned cure” that “disenfranchises more electors than it protects”, “creates a real risk of injustice and potential discrimination” and “lacks the flexibility necessary to avoid injustices”. But they stopped short of calling for the new regime to be abolished, arguing that “with targeted reforms the voter-ID regime can be an asset to UK democracy”.

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Good Law Project has been warning since November 2022 that the new system could see young people and marginalised groups denied their right to vote. And we revealed in July that the vast majority of local authorities made no attempt to record the number of voters turned away outside polling stations, which means it’s likely that many more people were denied a vote than the current estimate of 14,000.

“It’s been clear from the start that the Government didn’t introduce this policy to safeguard elections, but to gerrymander them,” said Good Law Project Legal Manager Ian Browne, “as Jacob Rees-Mogg admitted in May.”

But the cross-party group hasn’t gone far enough, he continued. “Only eight people have tried to vote in someone else’s name over the last decade. Turning away more than 14,000 voters during one local election is the very definition of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

Good Law Project is currently gathering evidence for a legal challenge so that, at the next General Election, no-one is denied their right to vote.

But we can only bring a successful challenge with your support. Any donation, whether big or small, will help us fight for an open and inclusive democracy.