Elections Bill second reading to take place today


With yesterday having marked the end of summer's parliamentary recess the controversial Elections Bill will have its second reading today.

Controversial is putting reception to the bill lightly. Over the recent months, both OBV and countless other organisations have made their opposition to the proposed introduction of voter dentification clear. 

Currently, as many as 3.5 million peopele (2% of the population) risk being disenfranchised as they lack valid ID. This is known by the government, following a 2018 Electoral Commission report, while the same line of reasoning was used by government officials to reject calls for mandatory ID for access to social media platforms.

“Users without ID, or users who are reliant on ID from family members, would experience a serious restriction of their…experience, freedom of expression and rights. Research from the Electoral Commission suggests that there are 3.5 million people in the UK who do not currently have access to a valid photo ID.”

The fact that those who are most likely to be affected are Black, Asian, or come from Roma backgrounds is especially telling. Runneymede Trust's senior policy officer Alba Kapoor gave a rundown on the figures in her analysis of the bill's impact.

She said, "In the UK, 3.5 million eligible voters do not have any form of photo ID. Although over three-quarters of white people hold a full driving license, 38% of Asian people and 48% of Black people do not.

"According to the 2011 census, only 66% of those of Gypsy or Irish Traveller background hold a passport."​

The response regarding social media identification has stood as a frequently referenced case study regarding policy consistency on the matter. In response to the objection of civil society groups to the identification proposals, government ministers responded as follows:

“Showing identification to prove who you are is something people of all walks of life already do every day. It is a reasonable and proportionate approach to extend this practice to voting and to give the public confidence that their vote is theirs, and theirs alone. Everyone who is eligible to vote will continue to be able to do so.” 

Discourse surrounding proportionality has been central to the debate on the Elections Bill and Voter Identification. The government's plans to push ahead with the bill come despite minimal convictions in previous elections (for reference, The Electoral Commission recorded one conviction in 2017 and zero in 2018) while there also low figures reported where allegations 

The bill will also have implications on the digital imprint of campaign groups and worryingly, the relationship between the independent Electoral Commission and the government.

Make sure to tune into Parliament TV to keep an eye on today's debate in the House of Commons.