Margaret Greenwood MP has raised concerns that new voter ID measures brought in by the government will see some people unable to vote in the local elections on 4 May.
Figures show that only around 4% of those who need to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate have done so.
The Wirral West MP has been highlighting the issue in recent months. She made her latest intervention during an Urgent Question in the House of Commons in which Labour pressed the government on arrangements in place to record the number of voters who attend at a polling station and are denied a vote because they are not in possession of valid photo ID.
People without valid photo ID – such as a driving licence, passport or a number of other accepted forms – were able to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate (VAC) for free up until 25 April to enable them to vote.
However, the deadline to apply has now passed, and Margaret Greenwood highlighted recent reports that only around 85,000 of the two million people who do not have valid ID have applied for a VAC.
This means that there are still more than 1.9 million people who do not have the necessary ID.
Speaking after her intervention in parliament, Margaret Greenwood MP said, “It is a matter of extreme concern that many people will not be able to exercise their democratic right to vote because of the changes that the government has brought in.
“The government says that the new rules are to prevent voter fraud, yet in 2021 there was just one conviction for electoral fraud across England, Wales and Scotland.
“It is quite clear that there was no need for the government to bring in these changes. In so doing the government will be preventing nearly two million people from voting.
“This is an attack on people’s democratic rights. Just a few years ago the country celebrated the centenary of votes for women. Now we have a government that is actively undermining the right to vote.
“People of 18 and over have a right to vote in the local elections on 4 May. The government should not be putting up barriers to people exercising that right.
“I am concerned about what this will mean for people in Wirral West. Anyone who does not have the necessary photo ID and who has not been able to get a Voter Authority Certificate will not be allowed to vote.
“I am also concerned about the impact that this will have on those who may struggle with reading and writing and those who do not have access to the Internet where they could have applied for a Voter Authority Certificate online.
“The government should be making it easier for people to vote and play their part in our democracy. Instead, they are doing the opposite.”
A driving licence or passport are acceptable forms of photo ID. To see the full list of photo identification that you will need to take to the polling station to be able to vote in 4 May’s local elections, visit this link: https://www.gov.uk/how-to-vote/photo-id-youll-need
Postal votes can be sent off as usual at these local elections without any need for photo ID.
Image: Birkenhead News