Local MP Richard Thomson is urging the UK Government to act on concerns expressed by the Electoral Commission about the Elections Bill, currently being considered by the House of Lords.
It has been estimated the Bill would disenfranchise about 2.5% of the electorate by requiring everyone to bring a passport, driving licence or similar photo ID to the polling station.
This week, the Electoral Commission wrote a strongly-worded public letter to the UK Government warning that the Bill’s plans for direct government oversight of political spending and election rules would undermine trust in the electoral system.
Commenting, Richard Thomson MP said:
“We already know this Bill has the potential effect that more than a million voters across the UK could be turned away from the polling stations at the next general election as a result of introducing voter ID. The Scottish Government can make sure these rules don’t apply at council and Holyrood elections – but Westminster sets the rules for its contests, and so as many as 100,000 Scottish voters would likely to be disenfranchised.
“People who face the humiliation of being turned away once may be reluctant to try again. They may not realise there are different rules for different contests in Scotland.
“Now however, the Electoral Commission have expressed grave concerns that the provisions in the Bill undermine their independence and subjects it to government influence. The Electoral Commission must be allowed to do its work free from the influence of whatever colour of government happens to be in power. The Commission’s independent role in the electoral system must be clear for voters and campaigners to see and preserved in electoral law.”
Note: The letter from the Electoral Commission may be found here