Stop the government’s expensive plans that could lock millions out of the polling station

Boris Johnson once pledged to ‘eat’ his ID if he was ever forced to show it by the government. Yet he is now introducing a ‘show your papers’ policy at the ballot box that is the misguided and wrong. At a cost of up to £20,000,000 per general election, this plan to force people to bring ID to vote is an expensive distraction from the problems the country faces.

Millions of people lack ID in the UK, and these expensive and undemocratic plans risk blocking them from the ballot box. Nobody should be turned away from a polling station or have to wait in line at their local council to be approved to vote because their driving licence is still in their maiden name, or their passport expired.

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Possession of ID is uneven in the UK, with those short on time and money less likely to have the required paperwork. These plans will make it harder for those already having a tough time to have their say.

Making it harder to vote comes at a high price. At a cost of up to £20m per election – the government’s own figures – this is a colossal waste of energy and resources at a time when we should be focusing on the UK’s recovery.

Ministers should focus on the real problems facing our democracy instead, not least the nine million missing from the electoral roll, and Westminster’s warped political system.


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The government trialled this policy ID during the 2018 and 2019 English local elections in a handful of local authorities, with each area testing different restrictions. Even with public information campaigns, over 1,000 voters were refused a ballot for not having the right paperwork. The government now want to roll out this expensive scheme to everyone for the 2023 local elections. 

There is a reason groups as wide ranging as the Salvation Army to Stonewall, Age UK and racial equality organisations oppose these plans: they will impact some people more than others and pull up the drawbridge to people across the country.