Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”Voter identification is central to protecting our electoral system from the potential for voting fraud”

Rachel Maclean, Levelling Up Minister, House of Commons

Facts

When questioned about the implications of introducing voter ID for in-person voting in Great Britain, Levelling Up Minister Rachel Malean stated,  “It is vital that we keep our democracy secure. This Government stood on a manifesto commitment to not only protect the integrity of our elections but to enhance it.” She added, “Voter identification is central to protecting our electoral system from the potential for voting fraud.”

On 5 July 2021, the Conservative government announced a proposal to introduce mandatory voter identification in elections from 2023. This was part of a new Elections Bill, introduced “to protect the integrity of the UK’s democracy”. The Elections Bill gained Royal Assent in April 2022, to become the Elections Act 2022. Voter ID was made mandatory for in-person voting for the first time in the May 2023 local elections. 

Data from the Electoral Commission showed that in elections in 2022, there were only seven allegations of  “personation” at polling stations. And that no further action was taken against any of these seven people due to insufficient or no evidence. 

The statistics highlight a point made repeatedly by opponents of voter ID, that it tackles a problem which is almost unknown in Britain. 

On 15 May 2023, less than a month after Maclean’s statement, Jacob Rees-Mogg, speaking at the National Conservatism Conference, stated “Parties that try and gerrymander end up finding their clever scheme comes back to bite them, as dare I say we found by insisting on voter ID for elections”. 

He added,  “We found the people who didn’t have ID were elderly and they by and large voted Conservative, so we made it hard for our own voters and we upset a system that worked perfectly well”

The Electoral Commission found that around 14,000 people were not able to vote in the 2023 local elections because they failed to produce the right photo ID. 

Their data also suggests that “disabled people and those who are unemployed were more likely than other groups to give a reason related to ID for not voting”

Verdict

Rachel Mclean’s statement to the House of Commons that “voter identification is central to protecting our electoral system from the potential for voting fraud” has been cast into question by subsequent comments by Jacob Rees-Mogg, a cabinet minister at the time the legislation was passed. He stated that the introduction of Voter-ID was not to “protect the integrity of the UK’s democracy” as the government at the time stated, but an attempt by the Conservative party to gerrymander the electoral system. 

We emailed Rachel Mclean’s parliamentary office and the Department for Levelling Up offering her the chance to respond. The email was received by both, but no reply. 

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