Discrimination in Voting

Voting at this year’s municipal elections in England, racial and disability discrimination was caused by contentious voter identification requirements. MPs and peers from the all-party parliamentary group on democracy and the constitution published a report on Monday. The report claims the regulations did more harm than good. The regulations went into effect in May. They will advocate for revisions, including the acceptance of a wider range of ID documents.

Sir Robert Buckland, the justice secretary in 2021 when the bill to implement the rules was initially introduced in parliament, and who later helped vote them through, co-authored the report.

The Scottish National Party MP John Nicolson chairs the committee, which also comprises Labour MPs and peers.

The authors found ““polling clerks are more likely to fail to compare a photo ID to the person presenting that document if the person is of a different ethnicity”.

. They cited the case of Andrea Barrett, an immunocompromised woman who was barred from voting after refusing to remove her mask for an identification check.

Following a series of small-scale trials, the regulations require voters to produce photographic identity at the polling place for the first time in May.

Downing Street said that when Boris Johnson initially proposed the measures to parliament in 2021, they were intended to avoid potential election fraud, despite the fact that just three people had been convicted for identity fraud at polling places in the previous seven years.

Ministers restricted the sorts of identification that might be accepted, including older people’s travel cards but not those of younger voters.

A study done earlier this year found that about 14,000 people had been denied an opportunity to vote. In each case, the reason was a lack of proper identification. Anecdotal evidence suggests that those who were “nonwhite passing” were more likely to be denied the opportunity to vote.

While there is no indication that this affected the outcome of the local elections, the APPG report cautions that if repeated in a general election, it could possibly swing the results of up to 16 constituencies.

It further asserts that the rules are overly reliant on the decisions of polling clerks and returning agents, which can be arbitrary and are not appealable.

The authors of the paper urge ministers to extend the sorts of documents recognised as identification and to allow people who fail ID checks to sign a legally binding declaration verifying their identity instead. They also advocate for increased training for returning police.

Voters with disabilities and of different races in England, should have the same right and equal opportunity to vote. Voting allows people to use their experiences to influence policy decisions in their communities and countries All people’s voices should be heard.


Stacey, Kiran, and Peter Walker. “Voter ID in England Led to Racial and Disability Discrimination, Report Finds.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 11 Sept. 2023, amp.theguardian.com/politics/2023/sep/11/voter-id-in-england-led-to-racial-and-disability-discrimination-report-finds.

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