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Voter ID Pilots

Volume 636: debated on Wednesday 21 February 2018

8. What steps he is taking to ensure that local authorities participating in voter ID pilots at the local government elections in May 2018 communicate to voters changes in the voting process. (903977)

10. What steps he is taking to ensure that local authorities participating in voter ID pilots at the local government elections in May 2018 communicate to voters changes in the voting process. (903980)

The Cabinet Office is working in close partnership with all piloting local authorities to ensure that each pilot has a tailored and comprehensive awareness-raising campaign that encourages eligible voters to bring ID to the polling station.

Research by the Royal National Institute of Blind People has found that the polling cards in the Government pilot are still inaccessible for blind and partially sighted people, and are often mistaken for junk mail. Can the Government guarantee that restrictive ID requirements will not disenfranchise disabled voters?

That is an extremely good point, and it is exactly the kind of thing I was referring to in my earlier answer regarding the call for evidence on how those with disabilities might in some ways be disempowered from using the registration and voting system. In this case, I would expect the piloting local authorities to look carefully at the issue in their own work, and I will undertake to do so as well from the point of view of the Cabinet Office.

What guarantees can the Minister give people who do not currently have the necessary ID to go and vote in the upcoming elections that they will be able to have access to the photographic ID that is needed without incurring personal cost?

The local authorities involved in the pilots are ensuring that nobody will be left behind in the way the hon. Gentleman might fear. They will provide ID if a voter does not have it, in the format of, for example, barcoded poll cards or letters that are relevant on the day. Those kinds of issues remind us why it is important to do pilots to test things out

The award-winning elections team in Swindon will deliver one of those pilots. Does the Minister agree that it is staggering that Labour opposes a change that is no different from collecting a parcel from the post office?

That is absolutely right. Anybody who might oppose these measures should think very, very carefully. We already ask that people prove who they are when they go to collect a parcel, rent a home, buy a home, rent a car, or travel; it is normal to use ID in everyday life.

Given that voter ID is required in Northern Ireland, will my hon. Friend roll this out across the country as quickly as possible so that all elections are free and fair?

I will look closely at the results of the pilots to evaluate whether it is possible to go further with them. My priority is to do what we can to stamp out electoral fraud. Fraud is not a victimless crime; to have your vote abused is to have it stolen, and that is what I am looking at.

In the context of these trials forcing people to show ID to vote, in the context of individual electoral registration resulting in 2 million people falling off the electoral register, and now it seems in the context of proposals to make postal votes harder to obtain, why is it that every change the Government bring in makes it harder for people to vote? Why are they scared of people voting?

The hon. Gentleman is blowing this out of all proportion. Let us not forget that we already use ID to register to vote. What we are talking about here is proving that the person who is voting is the person who registered. Let me return to an earlier answer and say that individual electoral registration has increased the accuracy and completeness of the register. I think that the hon. Gentleman is misunderstanding his own point.