Engaging the Public in Elections

Part of 2. Questions to the Counsel General – in the Senedd at 3:01 pm on 21 May 2024.

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Photo of Mick Antoniw Mick Antoniw Labour 3:01, 21 May 2024

Well, thank you for this ongoing issue. Of course, there has been a lot of comment on the recent council elections, particularly in England. Of course, the police and crime commissioner elections in Wales had very low turnout, because they were the sole elections, where actually the candidates have no support in terms of putting out publicity and material and information to electors. So, any analysis of how things happened in Wales will obviously be something of interest. We may learn more lessons from what happened in England, where we know, last time, there were at least 14,000 who were turned away from elections; others who were turned away and came back; and others, I suspect, who didn't bother going out to vote at all on the presumption that they didn't have the necessary ID. I do remember the former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, of course said, of ID cards, that he would tear it up and he would eat it with his cornflakes. Well, he must have done that, because he turned up to vote, didn't have an ID card, and they sent him home.

More troubling, of course, is concern over people like the veteran who turned up with his veteran ID and it wasn't accepted, and of course there are many students who have ID cards, but for some reason—we can only imagine why—student ID cards are not acceptable. So, there is very real concern about that and the ID card system and the impact that it has. As you know, Welsh Government's position is one that is oriented towards removing hurdles for participation in elections. And we know, from the comments that were made by the former Conservative Minister Rees-Mogg, that this was a measure that was introduced with the objective of actually restricting ability to participate in voting—an idea that has come from the voter suppression tactics of America. But what I can assure you is that when there is further analysis from the Electoral Commission—I do meet with them periodically—this will be one of the issues we will want to consider. But also we will want to consider in respect of how, in devolved Welsh elections when they take place, there isn't confusion for people as to their entitlement and ability to vote in Welsh elections without ID cards.