Further concerns raised over Tory Voter ID plans

“This report highlights the concerns raised by myself and other councillors over the Tories dodgy Elections Bill”, said Cllr Kenny MacLaren (SNP – Paisley Northwest) commenting on a report (Electoral Update Report) coming before the Renfrewshire Valuation Joint Board (RVJB) at their meeting on Friday 19th November.

This report highlights concerns about the Elections Bill introduced by the UK Tory Government which plans to make it compulsory for all voters at UK elections to show proof of their identification. The report states that the Bill, if implemented, will “have significant budget and workload implication for Election Returning Officers”. The Electoral Reform Society has estimated that these changes will add around £20million to the cost of holding elections in the UK.

Cllr Kenny MacLaren along with Cllr Will Mylet moved a motion at Renfrewshire Council’s meeting on 24th June condemning the attempt by the UK Tory Government to introduce voter identification plans for UK elections in Scotland. All councillors, except the Tories, supported the motion for fears that such plans would impact on poorer voters and reduce their likelihood of voting.

A recent report from the Scottish Assessors Association examined the proposed UK Elections Bill and its impact on elections in Scotland. The SAA highlighted that the move to voter ID would require additional resources to meet this new duty.

Cllr Kenny MacLaren added:

“This is yet another report highlighting the extra cost of running elections due to the Tories plan to force all voters to provide ID before they can vote. There is not a problem with fraudulent voting, at the 2019 election there were only 33 allegations of voter impersonation out of over 58 million votes cast!

“This adds to the comments from organisations such as the Electoral Reform Society who have complained about the impact that this bill will have on deterring poorer people from voting. The ERS quote the UK Government’s own figures that around 2.1 million people would be unable to vote in a general election due to not having recognisable photo ID.

Bruce MacFarlane, SNP candidate for the Paisley Southeast council by election, said:

SNP candidate for Paisley Southeast – Bruce MacFarlane (left) with Councillor Kenny MacLaren

“We should be looking at ways to encourage people to take part in elections, not putting barriers up – especially against those from poorer areas who don’t have the required identification documents.

“It’s important that everyone gets out and votes at every election, that’s why I would encourage everyone in Paisley Southeast to make sure they are on the electoral register for the by election. The deadline for applying to be on the electoral register for this by election is Thursday 25th November.”