Government under pressure to scrap photo ID for Gosport local elections

Ballot box

MORE than 40 campaign groups have petitioned for photo ID to be ditched from the local elections in May.

The scheme, which is being trialled on May 3 in five areas, including Gosport, means that voters will have to provide photographic ID, such as a driving licence or passport, before casting their vote.

Campaign groups, including the Salvation Army and Age UK, say that voter ID will build a barrier to democratic engagement, with ‘vulnerable’ people less likely to have the necessary ID.

But leader of Gosport Borough Council Cllr Mark Hook believes that the scheme should remain in place, with it used for a number of other services.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: ‘We are worried that requiring proof of identify at the ballot box could inadvertently impede some older people from voting, since they are far less likely than younger groups to have forms of photo ID like passports and driving licences readily to hand.

‘We understand that it is important to reduce the risks of electoral fraud but the government’s current proposals could end up undermining the democracy they are designed to protect.

‘We therefore urge the government to think again.’

Cllr Mark Hook said: ‘Photo ID is prevalent throughout the country for a variety of different things.

‘It is used for nightclubs, pubs and even for things like doctor’s appointments, so I don’t see why it shouldn’t be used in the democratic process to prevent any potential democratic fraud.’

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