'Half-baked' Voter ID plans will disenfranchise voters, Hackney councillor says

File photo dated 06/05/10 of the polling station at Market Hall in Swadlincote, Derbyshire. PRESS AS

Voter ID laws could disenfranchise voters, Hackney Council analysis suggests. - Credit: PA

Plans to force voters to present a photo ID at polling stations could disenfranchise communities and young people in Hackney, new council analysis suggests. 

The government's Election Bill would have polling staff ask for a driving licence, passport or a free Voter Card before residents could vote. 

But council analysis submitted to parliament found that thousands of young and minority voters in Hackney could face significant barriers to casting their vote if voter ID is implemented. 

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Deputy Mayor of Hackney, said: “Our country should be encouraging more people to take part in elections – not putting up more barriers in front of people wanting to have their say."

In the council's analysis it reports that 24 per cent of residents do not hold a passport or driving license. 

It also revealed that 47pc of Black people do not hold a driving licence in the UK, compared to 39pc of Asian people and 24pc of White people. 

The report suggested that Hackney's young population may  be less likely to hold a driving license or be aware of Voter ID laws. 

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And it raised concerns on how voter ID could impact groups with low voter turnouts like Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and homeless voters. 

Cllr Bramble added: Put simply, these half-baked plans are an unacceptable attack on democracy and in places like Hackney will disenfranchise thousands of people from their right to vote.”

The government says the changes will tackle electoral fraud, despite the Electoral Commission’s evidence that there are very low levels of this in the UK.

A government spokesperson said: "We cannot allow room for electoral fraud in our elections and so we are stamping out the potential for it to take place by requiring photographic identification.

“Our research shows 99pc of people from ethnic minority backgrounds had a form of identification that would be accepted under our proposals.

"We will ensure everyone who is eligible to vote will continue to have the opportunity to do so. For anyone without one of the wide range of accepted documents, a free local Voter Card will be available from their council.”