West Dunbartonshire’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes has hit out at the Tory UK government over its plans to introduce compulsory photographic ID for voting in future elections.
Local SNP MP Docherty-Hughes has been inundated with emails from constituents across Clydebank, Dumbarton and the Vale voicing concerns that disadvantaged voters face being disenfranchised.
The Queen’s Speech this week outlined plans to tighten rules on voting, with voters facing the prospect of being turned away from polling stations if they don’t have proper photographic identification.
The UK government is proposing that a passport or driver’s licence featuring a photograph will need to be produced by voters to enable them to vote in future elections. Under current rules, anyone registered to vote on the electoral roll simply has to turn up to their local polling station to cast their ballot.
The Electoral Reform Society has warned that the move would “leave tens of thousands of legitimate voters voiceless”. A number of charities including Age UK, the Runneymede Trust and Liberty have called on Ministers to rethink the proposals which have been described as “dangerous, misguided and undemocratic” by campaigners.
According to the UK government’s own figures, it’s estimated that implementing mandatory photo ID for voters would cost an additional £20 million per election.
Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:
“The right to vote is a fundamental part of our democracy, so it’s concerning that voters who can’t afford photo ID face being turned away from polling stations if these plans go ahead.
“I’ve been contacted by a number of local residents across Clydebank, Dumbarton and the Vale who are worried by the prospect of mandatory photo ID being brought in for future elections.
“More than half of adults living in low income households don’t own a driving licence, and across the UK 3.5 million citizens do not have access to any photo ID.
“These Tory proposals would cost tens of millions to implement and result in disadvantaged people in communities like West Dunbartonshire being unfairly disenfranchised from voting.
“Given the current political situation in the UK, the British government should be making it easier – not more difficult – for people to exercise their democratic rights.
“The SNP is opposed to compulsory voter ID and will be working in parliament to overturn these misguided proposals.”