Controversial voter ID legislation passed by MPs

Controversial voter ID legislation passed by MPs

Voters will need to show an approved form of photographic ID before they can collect their ballot paper, according to new measures in the Elections Bill.

MPs passed the bill through the House of Commons by 325 ayes to 235 noes on Monday and it will now be brought forward to Lords in the House of Lords.

The new measures will apply across the UK in general elections and councils will make a free voter card available for those without suitable identification.

Voter ID has been a contentious issue with Labour’s shadow minister for democracy, Cat Smith, saying in 2021: “Voting is safe and secure in the UK, meaning this policy is just an unnecessary barrier to democratic participation.”

The legislation is being brought in to combat voter impersonation, however, as of August 2020, just one conviction and one caution had been issued for personation offences during the 2019 election.

Photo ID is currently required for elections in Northern Ireland, and data shows that it has not significantly hurt turnout.

The requirement was also trialled in some local council elections in the UK.

Labour had attempted to remove the voter ID section of the bill, but that was rejected by 327 votes to 234, a majority of 93.

Elsewhere, the bill requires all digital campaigning to show an ‘imprint’ on who produces the material, just like they currently have for physical leaflets or posters.

It also introduces an electoral ban of five years to anyone found guilty of intimidation.

It also restricts the number of people someone can be a proxy for to four and makes it illegal for political campaigners to handle another person’s postal vote, unless it is their job or they are a relative or carer for the person.

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