I have personally come across a couple of examples when a neighbour went to vote and someone had already voted on her behalf, this was the same in another polling district. I do not think that it changed the election result but it was very unhelpful and irritating for the people wanting to vote. They have been disenfranchised. I have heard from tellers that people were boasting about voting several times and from many others during elections that this has been happening.
We need photo ID for many other reasons and the councils will be provided free photo ID for those that do not have one. At present, it is harder to take out a library book or collect a parcel at a post office than it is to vote in someone else’s name.
Voter ID is not new. Northern Ireland had required paper ID at polling stations since 1985, and photo ID since 2003 – introduced by the last Labour Government. It has proved to be effective at tackling fraud and has not curtailed election turnout. In pilot schemes in 2018 and 2019, the overwhelming majority of people cast their vote without a problem and the success of the pilots proves that this is a reasonable and proportionate measure to take, and there was no notable adverse effect on turnout.
Recent data shows that 99 per cent of people from ethnic minority backgrounds had a form of ID that would be accepted under the proposals, as did 98 per cent of people who identify as white. A total of 99 per cent of 18-29 year olds hold the relevant ID and 98 per cent of those aged 70 and over do too.
Identification to vote has been backed by the Electoral Commission and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, which state that its absence is a security risk and I agree with this.