“We should be making elections more accessible, not throwing up barriers to discourage people from voting as these voter ID plans will do,” said Councillor Bruce MacFarlane.
At a meeting of Renfrewshire Valuation Joint Board, the UK Tory Government legislation to introduce voter identification was discussed and concerns were raised at the impact this would have on voters in Renfrewshire and Scotland. Although these changes would only impact on UK General Elections, there is widespread concern that this will also impact on all elections as voters withdraw from the electoral process.
According to the new legislation, voters would have to provide photographic proof of their identity before being allowed to vote. The UK Government thinks this will only impact on around 2% of voters but the Electoral Commission believe it is more like 6% of voters who will be affected by these new rules. Those without acceptable ID (such as a photocard driving licence or a passport) may be able to apply to the council for a Voter Authority Certificate – although the details of these and how to apply for them are still unclear.
Councillor Bruce MacFarlane added:
“There is little to no evidence of voter fraud in Renfrewshire and Scotland which these proposals are meant to tackle – it’s clear this is just a Tory attempt to stop people mainly from low income areas from voting – knowing that they are unlikely to ever vote Tory!
“This is blatant vote rigging by the UK Tory Government which could cost councils extra funding for producing voter authority certificates and extra administration and staffing at polling stations.”
Councillor Kenny MacLaren said:
“I’ve warned before that this move is aimed at reducing the number of people who don’t vote Tory and is discrimination against poorer voters who either don’t have or can’t afford a driving licence or a passport.
“We heard from RVJB that this could mean between 5,000 and 16,000 people in the Renfrewshire Valuation Joint Board area (Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Inverclyde) could be without the approved ID and could effectively be barred from voting.
“The UK Tory Government was meant to give the valuation board the details of this act in May for implementation in December but now has only revealed their intentions in November for implementation in January – putting excessive pressure on valuation boards simply due to the incompetence of the UK Tory Government.”