Stockport: Opposing Voter ID proposals in the Elections Bill

This council meeting notes the Elections Bill currently working through parliament which, in its current form and among other provisions, would require voters to show photographic ID at polling stations.


This council meeting notes the Elections Bill currently working through parliament which, in its current form and among other provisions, would require voters to show photographic ID at polling stations.

This council meeting further notes the costs of the new measures are estimated by government to be £8.5m a year, and the cross-party Local Government Association have noted the serious capacity and resilience implications for councils, including the risk that identity checks and the possible refusal of votes may make election staff recruitment even harder than it is already.

This council meeting believes the proposals requiring photographic ID are a sledgehammer to crack a nut.  Enquiries show there have been no cases of suspected electoral fraud in Stockport which have required any form of investigation during at least the past five years, and none are known before that.  In 2019, nationally and across Local, European, Parliamentary and Mayoral elections, 58 million votes were cast.  Of these, there were 33 allegations of impersonation which resulted in one conviction and one caution for people casting votes illegally.  Most years are similar and the Electoral Reform Society have branded this “an expensive distraction”, highlighting the way this would act as a barrier to voting for already disadvantaged groups. 

This council meeting believes the Voter ID proposals will only serve to add barriers for those already least likely to vote and that the resources needed for these proposals to be implemented would be better spent promoting voter registration and encouraging voting across all communities. For this reason, in September 2018 and January 2021 the Corporate Resource Management and Governance Scrutiny Committee resolved not to participate in any trials.

This council meeting therefore resolves to ask the Chief Executive to write to our four local Members of Parliament, noting our opposition to the Voter ID provisions, and asking them to support any amendments to the Bill which would remove these provisions, and to focus instead on promoting voter registration and actually voting, in the interests of ensuring higher participation rates in our already safe and secure elections system.

Moved by: Cllr Lisa Smart

Seconded by: Cllr Mark Hunter