Kirsten Warns of Voter ID Threat to Democracy
Kirsten Oswald, Member of Parliament for East Renfrewshire, has warned that the Tory government’s Voter ID laws pose “a damaging threat to democracy in the UK”, following new analysis of the 2023 UK local elections.
The Electoral Commission report found that at least 14,000 people who tried to vote in the local elections were denied a ballot paper because of the ID requirement. The Commission also states this is an underestimate, due to data quality issues and because some people will have been reminded of the ID requirement before they could be recorded.
The report also found that, in a survey, a further 4% of non-voters said they didn't attempt to vote at all because of the voter ID requirement.
The analysis follows an admission by former Tory Cabinet Minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, that the Tory government introduced the voter ID rules in an attempt to "gerrymander" elections, telling the National Conservatism conference last month "Parties that try and gerrymander end up finding their clever scheme comes back to bite them, as dare I say we found by insisting on voter ID for elections."
The UK government policy followed the introduction of voter suppression moves in the United States under President Donald Trump, where Republicans introduced restrictive voter ID laws in an alleged attempt to raise barriers to Democrat-leaning voters.
Kirsten, who has spoken out about Voter ID on a number of occasions at Westminster said: “This report shows restrictive Tory voter-ID laws prevented thousands of people from voting in the local elections - and pose a damaging threat to democracy in the UK. "If this trend continues, thousands more could be prevented from voting in the next general election because they don't have the right ID or aren't aware of the changing rules.
"Not only would this stop eligible voters from having their rightful say - but it could also change the outcome of elections in marginal seats, where a handful of votes can determine who wins.
"There was no need to impose these restrictive rules in the first place - and Tory MPs have admitted they were introduced in an attempt to gerrymander elections by suppressing votes.
"The SNP will continue to press for these restrictive Tory rules to be scrapped, so all eligible voters can exercise their democratic right to vote - but this fiasco shows, yet again, that the Westminster system is corrupt and broken.”