The Tories recently announced plans to introduce trial schemes of voter ID. Meaning that to vote, you’ll require valid identification- possibly in the form of a passport, or the introduction of national ID cards.
Because I like to fully embrace my cliche as a young politics student, Imma go ahead and it you all up with my boy Orwell- “Whether the British ruling class are wicked or merely stupid is one of the most difficult questions of our time.”
Honestly, I really don’t know the answer. Part of me thinks a party that imposes benefit cuts that even Iain Duncan Smith (a man who is only a pitchfork and a 3 headed dog away from the devil) can’t stomach must surely be wicked.
But another part of me thinks they’re just massively detached from reality, and do have good intentions- for whatever that’s worth. Most occasions of the Government being “wicked” can often be put to good intentions from people who are remarkably out of touch. But voter ID? Not this time.
I’m struggling to see it as anything other than a thinly veiled attempt at voter suppression. Full on Republican/ Democrat style.
The Tories are saying its going to strengthen our democracy by cracking down on electoral fraud. This sounds amazing because obviously electoral fraud sounds like it could be a real big issue doesn’t it? Except it isn’t. Really. Like at all. We ain’t got millions of undercover KGB operatives walking into polling stations and voting Jeremy Corbyn every election and Danny from the pub doesn’t vote 5 times at each polling station in town.
My flippancy aside- we have a minimal amount of reported electoral malpractice, most of which is to do with the process beyond actual voting- meaning ID cards wouldn’t help. As Stephen Bush pointed out in the New Statesman, those criminals who we don’t catch have such an insignificant impact that the trend of voting isn’t effected. Meaning if some big bad overlord is rigging elections, they’re being very boring about it.
It’s a non problem which is providing the smoke screen for the Conservatives to drive down the working class vote. Putting aside all arguments about the liberty of the people and government surveillance, it is, at its crux, problematic for turnout.
In the event that it’s a form of ID such as a passport, not everyone can afford one. Around 5% of British adults do not have a passport. This would mean that 5% of the electorate would be excluded from voting. These people who can’t afford a passport are likely to be from the poorest parts of society- parts who tend to vote Labour.
But of the course you could just give out free ID cards- that solves the class problem? Right? No. There is an inherent class problem in voting. The lower classes vote considerably less as it is- meaning compared to the higher classes, they have less desire to go out whatever the weather and vote. Adding another reason for us to not vote is likely to decrease turnout even further.
Even if all these problems were somehow surpassed. You still have the simple problem that people forget their cards. Most people vote on their way too and from work, if they happen to forget their card it’s just another reason for them not to vote. It all goes towards decreasing turnout.
These Tory plans aren’t based in fact, they’re based in smokescreen and delusion.