Close to 60,000 people in Croydon could be denied their right to vote under new election ID rules introduced by the Tory Government that appear deliberately rigged to disadvantage the young and those from minority ethnic groups, according to figures from independent research.
“We simply can’t have a situation where thousands of Londoners are locked out of the political process,” Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said yesterday while at Labour’s annual conference being staged in Liverpool.
A report by the Electoral Commission has found that young people and ethnic minorities are five times more likely to be turned away from polling stations.
Since May this year, voters have had to show an approved form of photo ID to get their ballot paper.
In May 2024, London will be staging its Mayoral and London Assembly elections, while there will need to be a national General Election held before December next year.
Mayor Khan has raised concerns that the the changes to the voting system could see many people turned away from polling stations at the next elections.
The Electoral Commission report, which looked at the 2023 local elections across England, found that areas with the most deprivation saw a higher proportion of people turned away from polling stations for not having the right identification documents.
Among the ways that the Tories have tried to rig the voting system, the new rules allow discount travel cards for pensioners as proof of identity at polling stations, but not student ID or young peoples’ travel cards.
Analysis conducted by the Mayor’s office shows that 1-in-5 Londoners aged between 18 and 34 do not have the necessary photographic ID, in contrast to a figure of 1-in-10 people aged over 65.
According to a survey of Londoners by Opinium, 15% of Londoners said they currently didn’t have a form of photo ID – or around 1.3million people.
In Croydon, that could mean more than 58,000 could be turned away from polling stations next year without being handed their ballot papers. When Tory Jason Perry won Croydon’s Mayoral election in 2022, he had a winning margin of fewer than 600 votes.
The analysis also found that 85% of white voters say they definitely know how to locate suitable ID, in comparison to 63% of ethnic minority voters.
“Alongside expanding the list of eligible ID for younger voters, ministers must urgently bring forward a better-resourced public awareness campaign to reach the voters most impacted by these changes,” Mayor Khan said.
“Young people are being discriminated against through age-based ID.”
Londoners are likely to be disproportionately affected by the need to have voter ID due to the higher turnover of private renters and people on lower incomes, Mayor Khan said.
There are also more than 2.5million voters in London who do not have a driving licence, one of the other “acceptable” forms of ID under the Tory rules.
“As things stand there’s a real possibility that thousands of voters will be turned away from polling stations through no fault of their own, which could affect the outcome,” Mayor Khan said.
“The evidence is clear that it will be young people, ethnic minorities and those from poorer communities who will be affected most by this cynical assault on voting rights.”
- Make sure that you are registered to vote by visiting the Croydon Council website by clicking here. The process can be completed online in just five minutes
- Click here for the Electoral Commission’s guide to what are accepted forms of ID for voters, and how to apply for an ID photo card to ensure your voting rights
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