Last November we shared our concerns about the new rules and how they might deprive young people of their right to vote. The new legislation, expected to cost the taxpayer £180 million over 10 years, and which serves no good purpose, provides a list of valid government-accepted photo IDs to vote with. This list includes forms of ID targeted at the older generation, such as a 60+ Oyster Card. However, almost none are for young people, not even the Young Persons Railcard.
The Conservatives stopped an amendment to allow more acceptable IDs, including those for younger people. The Government’s own Equality Impact Assessment said, “Those who are entitled to vote should always be able to exercise that right freely, securely and in an informed way.” However, up to 3.5 million people don’t have ID and in trials back in 2018 and 2019, one thousand people who would have voted were turned away at polling stations, making this legislation accessible for some but not for all.
And the “Voter Authority Certificates” brought in by the Government as its solution has had a very poor take up with less than 4% of the 2 million people eligible applying for one.
Historically, age is the most prominent dividing line when voting, with sadly less than 50% of young people aged 18 – 24 voting in the 2019 general election. We fear these rule changes will make it less likely that young people will be able to vote on Thursday.
It’s not just young people that these unnecessary new rules risk disenfranchising. 35% of LGBTQIA+ people said they would be unlikely to vote if they had to show ID in the polling booth due to the risk of the all too familiar discrimination when showing ID. 70% of young trans people do not have a representative ID.
But there is hope – together we can change this. We will monitor the effects and impacts of the upcoming local elections and work to bring a case to tackle these rule changes so that, come the next General Election, no one has their right to vote taken away. We have obtained legal advice that such a challenge is worthwhile and it is undoubtedly important. The thwarting of the right to vote is bad for democracy.
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