Friday, 27 September 2019

We need to ensure that we are a participating democracy bt all.

Latest estimates by the Electoral Commission show that a million more people are not registered to vote correctly than was previously thought.
According to Left Foot Forward
They have found that between 8.3 and 9.4 million people in Great Britain who are eligible to be on local government registers are not registered properly.Cat Smith MP, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs, previously shared data in a written parliamentary question that suggested the figure was around a million less than what is now estimated.In her question on 2 September, using data from a 2016 study, she had found that between 7.8 and 8.5 million people were incorrectly registered.Addressing the issue back in April, Labour said they were considering using an automatic voter registration as a new policy.They suggested the idea after examining the automatic voter registration process in other parts of the world where it had been adopted successfully and increased overall registrations.Reacting to the current findings about incorrect registrations, Cat Smith said it’s ‘absolutely shocking’.“The Tories know that when lots of people are registered to vote, they are less likely to do well in elections, which is why the government has done nothing to address this unprecedented democratic crisis,” she explained.“The Prime Minister even tried to fix the date of when a general election might happen to make it harder for students to take part.“Ahead of the most important general election for a generation, it’s vital that every eligible voter can have their say, which is why Labour’s social media teams and our army of activists on the doorsteps will be working hard to increase voter registration.”
It seems strange to me that as you approach Pension Age you  appear to get information from the government  and reminded to apply for it.

For a government that seems to keep track of you for tax purposes cannot automatically add people to the register.
The suspicion of course  is that it suits the Conservatives in particular benefit  from voting registration and that the recent attempts to introduce voter ID are intended to exclude even more people from voting who may not be Conservative supporters.

As this Petition points out 

  Evidence from around the world shows that forcing voters to bring photographic ID to the polling station just makes it harder for people to vote – while doing little to increase faith in the integrity of the system or stop determined fraudsters. We don’t need more barriers to people taking part in our democracy.Electoral fraud in the UK
Thankfully electoral fraud is very rare in the UK. Where voter fraud has occurred, it has been isolated and therefore is best tackled locally.
Out of 44.6 million votes cast in 2017, there was one conviction resulting from the 28 allegations of in-person voter fraud – that’s 0.000063%. Adding a major barrier to democratic engagement off the back of this would be a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

At the same time, voter ID laws would make no difference to allegations of fraud with postal votes, proxy votes, breaches of secrecy, tampering with ballot papers, bribery, undue influence, or electoral expenditure. But it would make it harder to vote for millions of legitimate voters.

A barrier to democracy
There’s evidence that strict voter ID rules in the USA disproportionately disadvantage already marginalised groups. Why? Unlike in mainland Europe where everyone has a mandatory national ID card, in the UK and USA the richer you are the more likely you have ID. Many citizens who can’t afford to go on foreign holidays don’t have passports, and those that can’t drive don’t have driving licences.
Here in the UK, 3.5 million citizens do not have access to photo ID and 11 million citizens do not have a passport or driving licence – in 2013/14 1.7 million lack even a bank account. That makes mandatory voter ID – with no free provision – a barrier to many people exercising their right to vote.
Allowing the use of non-photographic (and easily-forgeable) utility bills would mean the change could actually do more harm than good – making it harder to vote for honest voters, while not tackling any of the alleged problems.
Even if the government decide to pay for a free national electoral ID card, forcing people to bring it to exercise their right to vote will lead to inevitable mistakes and accidents.
With no evidence of widespread fraud, even a handful of people not voting as they left their ID at home would have a far bigger impact on election results than alleged fraud.
Tackling fraud
Trust in our democratic system is vital, which is why scaremongering about the extent of fraud is dangerous. We need to be combatting the huge challenges that undermine our democracy, not building straw men at the polling station.
Clearer guidance and better training of election staff and Returning Officers, stronger powers against voter intimidation, and making it easier to launch ‘election petitions’ to report fraud are very much worth trialling. But the government needs to think very carefully before using an extremely blunt instrument to deal with a complex and varied issue.
So while voter ID might sound like an easy option, raising barriers to voting is rarely something to be welcomed, particularly in our already less-than-perfect democracy

We should  also consider compulsory  voting albeit  including the option of None of the Above being part the Ballot Paper.

If you are to claim to be a democracy then it must be a participating democracy and we should seek to see that is what the UK and future  independent Wales  should do its best implement.

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