Posts Tagged ‘Voter ID’

Welcome to Britain 2024 – we’re worse than Georgia when it comes to voter suppression

17/01/2024, 10:50:55 PM

by Paul Wheeler

2024 is the year of elections including amongst others the UK and US.

For decades political pundits here have been able to point an accusing figure to the Southern States of the US when it comes to the dark arts of voter suppression. Well thanks to the current Government Britain has lost the moral high ground. The credentials required to vote in person here are more restrictive here than in Georgia. Student ID is a permissible form of ID in Georgia a form of ID specifically excluded in this country.

The case for voter ID in Britain was always thin but the way that it has been implemented has descended into embarrassment. The comparison with other European countries who request voter ID ignores the simple fact that they nearly all have universal Identity Cards used in everyday life.

Perhaps most important it has diverted political time and energy which would have been better focused on improving the process of voter registration. The electoral register in Britain has been part of the hidden wiring of British democracy since the introduction of universal suffrage in the early twentieth century. However, in the last decade we have seen a slow-motion collapse in the accuracy and scope of the electoral register.

A major part of the problem is that we have expected cash strapped councils to implement huge changes to the process of voting and registration. If ever the principle of unintended consequences was relevant in public life it would apply to the introduction of Individual Voting Registration (IVR) in the UK.

Introduced in 2009 in the last days of the last Labour Government it was a well-intentioned attempt to move away from allowing a ‘Head of Household’ (usually assumed to be a male) to complete the registration of all members of the family/household. and instead put the responsibility on every individual to complete the registration form themselves – a huge change in terms of bureaucracy and form filling

Sadly, it didn’t anticipate that it would be implemented under a Coalition Government who implemented a savage reduction in public expenditure particularly amongst the 400 councils responsible for voter registration.

For one group of voters the results of the change to individual voting was catastrophic – ‘attainers’ are 16/17 year olds included on the register to anticipate their eligibility to vote at 18. In the past a Head of Household was expected to include them. Now the responsibility was their own. It became increasingly apparent over the years that 16/17 year olds have other priorities than voter registration.


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South Shields, Vincent Hanna and a compelling message

13/05/2013, 09:15:06 AM

by John Braggins

A lot has been written about the South Shields by-election and whether Labour should’ve done better half-way through an unpopular coalition government. And if so who or what was to blame – the lack of organisation, the previous MP, the local party or even the party leader?

First, the facts: Labour’s vote was 50.5% – down 1.5% from the 2010 general election; the Tories’ vote was 11.5% – down 10% and the Lib Dems vote was 1.5% – down 13%.  UKIP, of course, picked up 24%.

So in an ultra-safe Labour constituency in the midst of one of the worst recessions in living memory in which many voters still – rightly or wrongly – blame Gordon Brown and the last Labour government, Labour lost less than 2% of its 2010 vote.

Labour should’ve done better, absolutely, but to blame the lack of electoral data collected before the by-election started is to ignore the fact that there was the lack of a compelling message to galvanise South Shields voters.

I learnt this most graphically at the 1987 Greenwich by-election. The by-election was caused by the death of the popular Labour MP, Guy Barnett and Labour was expected to romp home with an increased majority and indeed the first published poll gave Labour 60% of the vote. The campaign lasted seven weeks, canvassed virtually every household and provided enough data to run an excellent polling day system.

Around 11am on polling day, Vincent Hanna who had pioneered exit polls in by-elections and developed the BBC’s by-election coverage into an art form, came into the party HQ with the news of the first exit poll. “If you want to maximise your effort” he told the assembled campaign team, “pack up and go home”. He continued “from the 11am figures I can tell you that for every two Labour doors you knock on today, one will go out and vote SDP, so if want my advice don’t knock on any doors.”


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