The Swindon Labour Group vehemently opposes an election pilot proposed by the Cabinet Office for Swindon’s 2018 Local Elections. The proposal would mean that voters would have to bring their polling card or forms of ID that are yet to be determined. If a registered voter was unable to bring such identification then they would be turned away from the polling station without being able to vote.

Swindon would be 1 of 5 other local authority areas that would take part in this pilot. All the other local authorities either have a Conservative majority or where the Conservatives are the largest party.

This election pilot was conceived through the Pickles Review in to Voter Fraud. Voter ID at the polling station was one of the review’s proposals, however there were other recommendations included, such as voters having to speak English at the polling station otherwise they’ll be disallowed from voting- https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/securing-the-ballot-review-into-electoral-fraud

Swindon has had no instances of proven Voter Fraud in recent years and it is unclear why Swindon has been chosen by the Cabinet Office for this pilot other than it is a marginal Conservative-Labour town.

The Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Jim Grant, said, “This elections pilot will suppress the number of people able to vote in next year’s election and that is why we are utterly against this pilot. We should finding ways to encourage people to vote, not excluding them.”

This scheme is addressing a problem that doesn’t exist. There was one allegation of impersonation per million voters at the last election and no instances of voter fraud has been recorded. Even the Conservatives recognise that voter fraud isn’t a significant issue in Swindon, so why do this pilot that could deter people from exercising their right to vote?

One only has to look at the other recommendations in the Pickles Review to realise that his review, which this pilot was born out of, is seeking to deter people from voting rather than tackle legitimate voter fraud. The fact that Pickles recommends barring people from voting who don’t speak English is proof of that. It’s deeply worrying.

Evidence from around the world tells us forcing voters to bring ID won’t stop determined fraudsters, but is likely to lead to even lower turnouts amongst some groups of people.”

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