Utilizing picture ID in British elections will hurt democracy, say US civil rights teams | Politics

Plans to force people to show photo ID to vote in UK elections represent Republican-style voter suppression and are likely to undermine rather than increase confidence in the democratic process, three leading US civil rights groups have warned.

In an intervention that could prove embarrassing to ministers, U.S. groups who were at the forefront of Donald Trump and his allies’ efforts to tackle voice blocking said ID laws disproportionate people from poorer and more marginalized communities concerned.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Commons Cause said that while they are not campaigning directly in the UK, it is a general principle that such laws are harmful with no evidence of widespread election fraud .

Boris Johnson’s government is expected to come up with a bill this spring to make photo ID mandatory for all small-scale elections in the UK and England after two years from 2023, although repeated warnings from charities and others about the impact on groups are fewer the necessary documents are likely to be in possession.

“The real reason these laws are being passed is to suppress the vote, and that’s exactly what is happening,” Caren Short, senior lawyer for the SPLC, told the Guardian.

“There are certain communities that do not have the required ID or the underlying documents to obtain the ID. Therefore, it is more difficult for these people to cast their vote. That is what these laws are designed for, and that is exactly what they do. “

Molly McGrath, an electoral campaign strategist at the ACLU, said voter ID is not about proving who you are, but about excluding the people who are least likely to have that ID.

She said, “I can go almost anywhere and find someone who has been disenfranchised. I’ve never gone to a grocery bank and haven’t found anyone who needs ID to vote. “

UK ministers insist that a law is needed to combat the officially designated voter personality – someone who goes to a polling station to physically cast a vote while pretending to be someone else.

However, critics point out that the crime is virtually unknown in the UK. After the parliamentary elections in 2019, there was a conviction for voter personality. Between 2010 and 2016, which included two general elections and the EU referendum, there were 146 allegations with seven convictions, including five in a single incident.

British charities representing groups such as the elderly, ethnic minorities and the homeless have urged the government to reconsider the law.

Sylvia Albert, director of polls and elections for Common Cause, a Washington DC-based civil rights group, said introducing a voter ID card when there was negligible evidence of a problem tends to have the paradoxical effect of making voters less confident in the election.

“They are trying to say that they want to protect the integrity of the elections but the reality that our elections have a strong integrity,” she said. “In this way, you are actually undermining their integrity.

“By introducing aspects of voter repression, including the voter card, politicians can choose their voters, and that is not the strength of a democracy.”

While the UK legal process to identify voters in the UK Council elections in 2018 and 2019 allowed various areas to produce a wide variety of documents, the law is expected to require photo identification such as a passport or driver’s license. Those who do not have such an ID must apply to their local council before the elections.

Cat Smith, Labour’s shadow cabinet minister, said the government should “heed the warnings from these respected civil rights groups who have seen firsthand the undemocratic and discriminatory effects of using voter ID cards in elections.” The ID bill is also opposed by Lib Dems, SNP, Plaid Cymru, and Greens.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said mandatory ID is “a sensible way to combat and strengthen the integrity of the inexcusable potential for electoral fraud in our current system,” and the “overwhelming majority” of people can successfully participate in the pilots.

She added, “We will make sure this policy works for everyone. There will be a free electoral badge on site and we will continue to work with a wide variety of charities and civil society organizations. “

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