Pensioner to wage Supreme Court fight against Tories forcing voters to show ID


A campaigning pensioner has won permission to fight the Tories’ voter ID plans in the Supreme Court.

Ministers plan to force voters to show their identification at polling stations from 2023 in a crackdown on fraud.

But there were only eight allegations of in-person voter fraud at a polling station in 2018, 28 in 2017, 45 in 2016, 26 in 2015 and 21 in 2014.

By comparison, 1,968 people were initially refused a ballot paper across just 10 trial areas in 2019 for not having the right ID. Many of those later returned to vote but 740 of them did not.

Critics say the law is a “sledgehammer to crack a nut” that will create more problems than it solves.

Campaigner Neil Coughlan, 67, of Witham, Essex, has now won permission to mount a challenge in the UK’s highest court.

He will argue there is a “constitutional right” to vote and ministers exceeded their powers while piloting the scheme in 2019.

While the case is focused on pilots of the scheme in 2019, lawyers Leigh Day believe a ruling could affect Voter ID more widely.

Mr Coughlan, who has lost previous fights in the High Court and Court of Appeal, is crowdfunding his latest effort.

He said: “Requiring individuals to produce identity documents is going to deprive legitimate members of the electorate of the vote.

“I believe it will disproportionately affect the poor and marginalised members of our society.”

“I believe it will disproportionately affect the poor and marginalised members of our society,” he said

Labour, LGBT charity Stonewall and Operation Black Vote back the case amid fears it will disproportionately hit minority groups.

Labour’s Shadow Minister for Democracy Cat Smith said: “The introduction of Voter ID would be a step backwards for British democracy.

“It is only right that the highest court in the land deliberates this unprecedented change.

“Voting is a fundamental democratic right, not a privilege for those with the right form of photo ID.”

The Cabinet Office insists pensioners would also be able to use bus passes as proof of ID, and a “broad range of commonly held photographic documents will be accepted”.

Constitution minister Chloe Smith told the Guardian: “A local electoral card will be available free of charge from their local council for anyone who wants it.”

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