Fri 19 May, 2017

The Scottish Government must give immediate reassurance that there will be no collaboration with this disturbing proposal from a Prime Minister who wants to rip up our human rights, deepen inequality, and disenfranchise those who are most in need of political change. Patrick Harvie MSP

The Scottish Greens will lead a campaign to ensure that Tory plans for compulsory photo-ID at elections are not replicated in Scotland. 
 
Patrick Harvie MSP, the Scottish Greens’ co-convener, has written to Derek Mackay, the cabinet secretary with responsibility for elections, seeking a guarantee that the Scottish Government will stand against the “damaging and authoritarian” proposal in the Conservative Party’s general election manifesto. 
 
Harvie says the move will result in “marginalised people losing their ability to vote”.

Meanwhile, Green MSP Ross Greer has submitted a Parliamentary motion criticising identification as a form of voter suppression. 
 
Glasgow MSP Patrick Harvie said:
 
“We’ve seen disturbing evidence of voter suppression strategies in many other countries, and this looks like an obvious attempt by the UK Government to do the same thing here. ‘Papers please!’ is the cry of an authoritarian regime, and must not become the norm in our polling stations. It can only lead to marginalised people losing their ability to vote, with the result that politics will continue to look after those already well served.
 
“The Scottish Government must give immediate reassurance that there will be no collaboration with this disturbing proposal from a Prime Minister who wants to rip up our human rights, deepen inequality, and disenfranchise those who are most in need of political change.”

Conservative Party 2017 manifesto, P43:
“We will legislate to ensure that a form of identification must be presented before voting”
 
The letter:
 
Dear Cabinet Secretary,
 
You will no doubt have seen details of the UK Conservative manifesto which was published today. Among many troubling policies, the proposal to introduce a requirement for compulsory photo-ID at elections requires a robust response. This will inevitably reduce voter engagement and may particularly disenfranchise many people who are most in need of strong representation in our political system.
 
In particular I am concerned that this proposal will reduce democratic participation among young people, economically disadvantaged people, those without bank accounts, and many other marginalised groups in society. It is not hard, for example, to see how people living in insecure accommodation or who are in abusive or coercive relationships will, in practice, risk losing their ability to vote.
 
Even when the previous UK Government proposed legislation for compulsory ID Cards – which my party opposed, as did your own – I don’t believe that it was ever proposed that citizens should be forced to present their ID Cards in order to exercise basic rights such as voting.
 
Legislation covering local and Scottish Parliament elections is of course devolved, and I would hope that you are able to give a clear commitment not to proceed in the direction set out by the UK Government in respect of these elections. However, our devolved public services are also involved in the administration and oversight of UK elections, and of any other UK-wide votes which may take place under reserved legislation.
 
I am therefore seeking your reassurance that the Scottish Parliament and Government will be able to stand against this damaging and authoritarian proposal from the UK government, to ensure that we can continue to argue for the greatest possible participation in our electoral process.
 
Sincerely,
 
Patrick Harvie

Text of motion submitted by Ross Greer:
That the Parliament believes that requiring voters to present identification is a form of voter suppression designed to target those on lower incomes, younger people, people of colour and other underrepresented groups; notes that there is no national identification card in the UK and that many people, such as those on lower incomes and young people are less likely to have formal identification, such as a driver’s licence; notes that there is no evidence to suggest that electoral fraud is widespread or a significant problem in the UK; is aware that voter identification laws have been introduced in other countries, such as the United States of America, where they have impacted on the outcome of elections and have been widely condemned by civil rights groups; and considers any attempt to suppress voting by introducing identification requirements a threat to democracy. 

 

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