London’s young and ethnic minorities risk losing voting rights

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.

Poll sign: elections in 2024 will require voters to have very specific forms of photo ID to be allwoed to vote

“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.

Voting rights: Mayor Sadiq Khan

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.”

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8 Responses to London’s young and ethnic minorities risk losing voting rights

  1. Carl Lucas says:

    This is nonsense and just seems to insult the intelligence of minorities because it implies that we are incapable to conducting a basic internet search.

    • But would anyone conduct that basic internet search if they were unaware of the new rules?

      Let us know when you spot your first piece of Government advertising about the change in voter ID rules…

      • Carl Lucas says:

        There’s obviously also a direct correlation between people that don’t know the very well known fact that you need ID to vote, as should have always been the case, and people that don’t bother to vote.

  2. Diana Pinnell says:

    I am waiting for Parliament to pass secondary legislation to allow voters like me to be reinstated on the electoral roll. Voters who are resident overseas lost our votes after 15 years abroad, but this year the law was changed to allow us to vote in the UK again for life as overseas voters.

    Until the secondary legislation is passed, Councils like Croydon cannot add us back to the electoral roll, and we won’t know which id we will have to provide when voting, or how postal or proxy votes will work.

    I don’t trust Parliament to get this through in time for London or General Elections, neither do I trust Croydon to handle the admin or advise.

    Living in France, as a UK national I can no longer (post Brexit) vote there, either, even for the town hall or the MEP, just a trivial right lost by UK citizens living in Europe. To be disenfranchised is not comfortable.

    To have the right to vote in the UK but not the evidence to do so is very frustrating.

  3. Mathew Hill says:

    Many Londoners don’t drive (and, hence, don’t possess a driving licence), and many younger Londoners don’t own a passport (under the current cost-of-living crisis, and following COVID restrictions and years of Tory austerity, who among us has been able to travel abroad?)

    It’s abundantly clear, as the article illustrates, that this is an intentionally disproportionate response to a practically non-existent problem, that will deter significantly more legitimate voters (primarily ethnic minority and/or young and/or socioeconomically deprived voters, and, I would add, disabled voters, demographics that are ‘coincidentally’ more likely to vote for non-Tory candidates, at present), than it will target ‘fraudulent’ ones.

    Anecdotally, my experience is that minority and young voters already feel disaffected by the present state of Parliamentary politics, and whilst many, to their credit, are highly engaged in other forms of political activism, this unfortunately means that they’re being excluded from what is still arguably the most practical and constructive form of political and democratic participation.

    According to a 2022 report conducted by Voice4Change England, the largest number of electoral fraud cases don’t concern *voter* fraud, but relate to campaign offences attributable to officers and agents acting for political parties.

    And since 2016, only *three* individuals have been convicted for personation (the specific offence these ID measures are intended to combat). The vast majority of personation allegations (already an insignificant number of voters) amounted to neither a conviction nor a caution.

    Further to the groups mentioned above, women, over-65 year-olds, urbanites, and Labour voters in general, are less likely to possess the type of photo ID the election ID rules require.

    So, it all begs the (rhetorical) question: why have the Tories introduced these rules?

  4. Ian Kieran says:

    Mathew has some very clear points. However the fact that only three people have been convicted for personation is not an accurate reflection of the problem of vote tampering.

    The difficulty is perhaps the regulations and costs of catching those doing so.

    Prevention is much easier and less costly to the taxpayer – but more so to the voter.
    Government wants National ID cards as that makes policing easy and cheaper.

    There is the Voter Authority Certificate which is simpler but still disadvantages those without digital means and immobile.

  5. Andrew Pelling says:

    Non registration is evident in the populations of the new Croydon seats as measured published by Census 2021. The seats have similar numbers of registered electors but the populations are

    Croydon South 101,000
    Croydon East 109,800
    Streatham & Croydon North 118,600
    Croydon West 122,500

    These variations are not notably skewed by age demographics or hugely by nationality.

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