New government rules for photo ID raises concern that some people will not be able to vote at Stratford on Avon District Council elections
INCREASING concerns are being voiced about the requirement to provide photo ID at the forthcoming local elections, with critics fearing it will disenfranchise some sections of the community.
The matter is being raised at the next full meeting of Stratford District Council on Monday (24th April) by the opposition Liberal Democrats.
And Dr Roy Lodge, a former Conservative Mayor of Stratford, addresses the subject in this week’s issue of the Herald. (See Points of View, Page 16.)
Dr Lodge, who was Mayor of Stratford in 2006-07 and became a Lib Dem on leaving Stratford Town Council in 2010, says there is general concern that the new requirement for voters to show a photo ID will leave many disenfranchised.
The government has used the argument that photo ID is necessary at elections to prevent voter fraud. But Dr Lodge points out that data released by the Electoral Commission after the last general election showed that 164 allegations of election fraud were investigated by the police, but none led to a conviction.
“The new law is just going to make it more difficult to get people out to the ballot box,” he writes. And he adds: “All the evidence suggests that this is likely to adversely affect the poorest and the most marginalised.”
For those who do not have the required forms of photo ID, Voter Authority Certificates are being made available as proof of identity.
But at Monday’s council meeting Cllr Kate Rolfe (Lib Dem, Tiddington) will point out that obtaining such a certificate will involve being able to have on-line access or the ability to visit Elizabeth House, the council’s headquarters in Stratford – “which is an inconvenient journey for many people”.
Cllr Rolfe will ask the ruling Conservatives on the district council how many Voter Authority Certificates have been processed to date from Elizabeth House.
She will also ask: “How many were for Stratford town residents and how many for residents of other areas? What arrangements are being made to record the number of people who turn up at a polling station and are unable to vote because of the lack of appropriate evidence of identity?”
Cllr Susan Juned (Lib Dem, Alcester Town), leader of the Lib Dems on the district council, said: “I’m concerned that some people may people lose their voice in this year’s local elections if they do not have the correct photo ID.
“Issuing Voter Authority Certificates for those who do not have other forms of acceptable ID is an added burden on electoral services staff at a busy time preparing for the local elections.
“The walk-in service offered by SDC is useful for those who can access the office. For others the only option will be to use the government online portal which might prove too difficult.”