Dear Chris Skidmore MP,
In the past I've written to you about a number of constitutional issues, asking for your support in making our elections fairer and more representative of the electorate at large.
Unfortunately the government seems to be going in the opposite direction. The introduction of mandatory Voter ID is a solution to a problem which doesn't exist. It will disenfranchise millions of voters across this country, and is completely unnecessary as the level of voter fraud in the UK is so low as to be completely negligible. The government has the facts on this. The pilot schemes which have already been run show that many people will be denied a vote if they are forced to show ID.
This can only lead me to imagine that the Conservative government are pressing ahead with Voter ID laws in order to suppress the votes of opposition parties, whose voters are statistically less likely to own a driving license or passport. Add to this proposed boundary changes, the introduction of FPTP for mayoral/PCC elections, a clamp down on peaceful protest and curbs on the power of the judiciary, and it feels very much like democracy is being taken from us.
Will you take a stand against the latest assault on democracy?
Would you take a stand if a Labour government announced similar measures to intentionally suppress the Conservative vote?
I can tell you honestly that I know of several family members and friends who have voted for you in the past who do not own a passport or driving license. Would you be happy to see them lose their democratic right to vote?
I hope you will completely oppose the introduction of Voter ID laws, but if you won't there must be some compromise you would support to protect democracy (e.g. Free Voter ID automatically sent to anyone who registers to vote).
Thank you for your email about voter ID. As ever, I appreciate you raising your concerns with me.
A secure electoral system is a vital component of a healthy democracy, and the public must have confidence that our elections are secure and fit for the 21st century. Asking voters to bring ID to their polling station is an important way of achieving this and the Electoral Integrity Bill will put such a requirement into law.
Voter ID is not new. Northern Ireland had required paper ID at polling stations since 1985, and photo ID since 2003 – introduced by the last Labour Government. It has proved to be effective at tackling fraud and has not curtailed election turnout.
Identification to vote has been backed by the Electoral Commission and international election watchdogs. At present, it is harder to take out a library book or collect a parcel at a post office than it is to vote in someone else’s name.
In pilot schemes in 2019 and 2018, the overwhelming majority of people cast their vote without a problem and the success of the pilots proves that this is a reasonable and proportionate measure to take, and there was no notable adverse effect on turnout.
The Electoral Commission also stated that "the experience of taking part in the pilot scheme appears to have had a positive impact on people’s perception of the security of the polling station process, and on their confidence in it...Polling station staff were satisfied with how polling day went and were confident that they could manage the process of people showing voter identification at future elections."
Importantly, under the Government’s proposals, anyone without an ID will be able to apply for a new free one – meaning that no voter will be disenfranchised.
I do hope this can be of some use and reassurance to you. Thank you again for taking the time to contact me, and if there is ever anything else I can do for you as your local MP, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
With very best wishes,
The Rt Hon Chris Skidmore MP
Member of Parliament for Kingswood
Chris Skidmore supports the introduction of Voter ID.
Game Maker & Green Activist
Game Maker & Green Activist