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Queen's Speech: Compulsory voter photo ID law expected to be included
10 May 2021, 11:11 | Updated: 10 May 2021, 14:52
Tomorrow's Queen’s Speech is expected to include the introduction of a controversial measure aimed at tackling voter fraud, the need for Brits to bring photo ID if they want to cast a vote in an election.
The proposals, which are expected to be announced on Tuesday, will also include tighter rules on voting and voter intimidation, and limits on the number of postal votes a person can hand in at a polling station on behalf of others.
If the plans go ahead, voters will need to show photographic ID in order to vote in UK general elections, as well as local council elections in England and police and crime commissioner elections in England and Wales.
Critics have said the plans would disadvantage ethnic minority voters and those on lower incomes.
“Stealing someone’s vote is stealing their voice,” said minister for the constitution and devolution Chloe Smith, speaking in support of the plans.
“Fraud, and the intent to intimidate or coerce a voter, are crimes. So this government is stamping out the space for such damage to take place in our elections.”
However, the plans have been met with criticism, with claims that it would effectively remove the right to vote from millions of people.
Data from the electoral commission has shown that nearly 3.5 million people currently do not have suitable ID.
If the acceptable forms of ID were limited to just passports and driving licences, almost a quarter of the electorate would currently be unable to vote.
According to civil rights group Liberty, young people and marginalised groups such as trans people and those without a fixed address are most likely to be harmed by the plans.
The plans have also been opposed by the Conservative Party’s own MPs, with leading MP David Davis branding them “illiberal” and claiming they “impinge on people’s privacy and convenience”.
With only one conviction of electoral fraud in 2019, Davis also argued that the plans are unnecessary, calling them a “solution in pursuit of a non-existent problem”.
The Queen’s speech, which lays out the government’s plans for the next parliamentary session, is not expected to include the reforms to adult social care which were promised in the Conservative manifesto, a delay which Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove put down partly to a lack of cross-party support for the reforms.
The speech, which will take place tomorrow, will be a smaller-scale event than usual due to Covid-19 regulations.