I am sorry to say that there is now clear evidence that the British government’s changes to electoral law have succeeded in reducing voting in last week’s local elections.

In the 2021 election the official Election Commission found no serious fraud. In fact just one voter was successfully prosecuted. Yes – one.

Despite this the Conservative government introduced new rules requiring – for the first time – that voters provide identification. When this was brought in, Labour warned that “millions of voters could be disenfranchised under “discriminatory” plans due to be unveiled on Monday that will force people to carry identification to cast a ballot.”

Elections were held last Thursday – and this is exactly what has happened.

Democracy Volunteers, who monitored the election, has just issued their report.

Democracy Volunteers observed 879 polling stations and their report says that 1.2% of voters were turned away: 110 voters.

Some were turned away wrongly: for example an elderly woman with a Pakistani passport, despite this being acceptable identification.

As the Electoral Commission made clear: “Passport issued by the UK, any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, a British Overseas Territory, an EEA state or a Commonwealth country (including an Irish Passport Card)”

And 53% of those turned away were “non-white passing.” So ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected by the changes.

American voter suppression

This has a long, sad history in the United States, as CNN has documented.

The Library of Congress provides this background to how it is done. And now – sadly – it is happening in Britain.

“A terrible and bloody Civil War freed enslaved Americans. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution (1868) granted African Americans the rights of citizenship. However, this did not always translate into the ability to vote. Black voters were systematically turned away from state polling places. To combat this problem, Congress passed the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870. It says:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Yet states still found ways to circumvent the Constitution and prevent blacks from voting. Poll taxes, literacy tests, fraud and intimidation all turned African Americans away from the polls. 

Voting Rights for African Americans