“The introduction of compulsory photo ID for voters is a typical Tory attack on those least able to defend themselves, targeting many voters who are elderly, ethnic minority and come from disadvantaged backgrounds”, said Councillor Mags MacLaren (SNP – Paisley North West).
The Electoral Reform Society warned that the move “will leave tens of thousands of legitimate voters voiceless,” and that the UK Government should instead “focus on combating the real threats to our democracy, rather than suppressing voters’ rights.”
A 2016 Electoral Commission report revealed that 3.5 million citizens in the UK do not have access to photo ID, and 11 million citizens do not have a passport or driving licence.
Commenting, Cllr Mags MacLaren – who is a member of Renfrewshire Valuation Joint Board which oversee electoral registration in Renfrewshire – said:
“The Tory government’s plans to introduce compulsory photo ID for voters is nothing short of voter suppression and a dangerous attempt to influence future elections.
“Evidence has shown that such a move would threaten to rip away the democratic right to vote from many elderly people, those from ethnic minority communities, and people from disadvantaged or vulnerable backgrounds.
“Rather than tackling key issues threatening our democratic process – such as dark money and dodgy political donations – the Tories are instead lurching even further to the extremes and targeting ordinary citizens.
“The SNP has consistently argued in favour of extending the franchise to all who live and work in Scotland. We extended the Scottish independence referendum vote in 2014 to those aged 16 and up, as well as EU citizens.
“The SNP argued in favour of allowing 16 and 17 year old and EU citizens – who will all be among the most affected – to vote in the EU referendum in 2016. While the Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representation) Bill currently making its way through Holyrood seeks to extend the right to vote to everyone legally resident here, not just EU and commonwealth citizens.
“Rather than importing a Republican US-style restrictive voting system and hostile approach, the Tories should follow the lead of the SNP Scottish Government.”