Voter ID: Fraudulent Votes

Electoral Commission Committee – in the House of Commons on 17th June 2021.

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Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

What recent estimate the commission has made of the potential number of fraudulent votes that will be prevented with plans to mandate voter ID at future elections.

Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

The commission has made no detailed assessment of the number of fraudulent votes that could be prevented as a result of the Government’s proposed policy to introduce voter ID requirements. While levels of reported electoral fraud in the UK are consistently low, they do vary and there is no reliable methodology for forecasting instances of electoral fraud. The commission has highlighted the lack of an ID requirement as a vulnerability in polling stations in Great Britain. Public research shows that this issue concerns voters.

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

We know, as the hon. Gentleman says, that previous work by the commission has shown that voter impersonation is a very rare occurrence in this country. We also know from the other side of the Atlantic that schemes there involving the production of identification at polling stations have suppressed turnout, especially among poorer communities and minority ethnic communities. Will that experience be taken into account by the commission in formulating further advice to the Government in respect of their proposed legislation?

Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that question, and he raises an interesting point. Hon. Members will have seen that, at both state and federal level, there are discussions at the moment about electoral law. We may have lessons to learn from fellow democratic countries, and I will pass that recommendation on to the commission for its consideration.