740 people denied the vote in mandatory ID trials

New Electoral Commission figures reveal that more than 700 people were denied a vote for not having ID in May’s local elections.

The statistics show that a total 1,968 people were initially refused a ballot paper across the 10 trial areas for not having the right ID. While, more than half of those later returned to vote, 740 of them did not later return with ID – indicating they were denied a vote.

The Electoral Reform Society has now called for an immediate halt to the mandatory voter ID plans, having already highlighted how there were just eight allegations of personation fraud – the type voter ID is meant to prevent – in the whole of the UK last year, out of millions of votes cast.

That suggests the number of people denied a vote in the 10 council wards trialling voter ID outnumbers the scale of alleged voter fraud in the whole UK by a factor of almost 100. Despite this, the government remains determined to roll out mandatory voter ID nationwide.

Of the five areas chosen to test voter ID in 2018 – Bromley, Woking, Gosport, Watford, and Swindon – none recorded any cases of voter impersonation in recent years, suggesting the policy was based on ‘ideology over evidence’.

Jess Garland, director of Policy and Research at the Electoral Reform Society, said: “These official figures pose a stark warning about the government’s undemocratic push for mandatory voter ID. It is clear that, once again, the number of people denied their rightful vote far outstrips the levels of impersonation at the ballot box.

“Mandatory voter ID poses an unprecedented risk to democratic access and equality. Millions lack the required forms of identification and these plans, if rolled out nationwide, could see tens of thousands of legitimate voters lose their voice. Trust in our democratic system is vital – which is why ministerial scaremongering about fraud is especially dangerous. Ministers must now focus on combating the real threats to our democracy – rather than suppressing voters’ rights.”