The government is correct to ignore some of Eric Pickles’ more retrograde recommendations such as banning selfies and non-English languages at polling stations. It is also correct to seek to address the current lack of voter verification we see throughout elections. However, the government risks isolating communities by ruling out the possibility of introducing a separate voter identity document for those without traditional forms of ID. A real pilot scheme would test all viable options, including a separate voter identity document.
Rather than tackling voter fraud, the minister responsible, Chris Skidmore, should be focusing on how to boost voter engagement. Estimates show that 95% of the UK’s 19,000 elected politicians were voted in on turnouts of less than 50%. In the EU referendum, 13 million people did not vote. On top of that, voters with vision impairments, voters with disabilities and voters abroad are virtually locked out of the voting system. Rather than tinkering with a broken system of the past, we should instead look to the future of elections and create a system fit for the 21st century.
This letter was written was originally published in the Guardian here.