Drakeford accuses UK Government of having ‘voter suppression agenda’
Mark Drakeford has accused the UK Government of having a “deliberate voter suppression agenda” after reports people were turned away from ballot boxes in England last week due to new photo identification laws.
The First Minister told Senedd members the Welsh Government would not be introducing ID requirements for local and Senedd elections held in Wales.
Responding to a question during Tuesday’s Plenary session, Mr Drakeford said the issue of voter fraud did not exist.
He claimed the Conservative Party was using far-right tactics from the United States to “make it more difficult for people who might not support them to turn up and cast their vote”.
Conservative member Darren Millar said he was “baffled” by the Welsh Government’s position on the matter.
Voters were required for the first time on Thursday to show photo ID in order to collect their ballot paper.
More than 8,000 council seats in England were being contested across 230 local authorities, while mayors were being selected in Bedford, Leicester, Mansfield and Middlesbrough.
The Government has argued the change is required to reduce electoral fraud, but the move has been widely criticised over concerns of potential voter disenfranchisement.
In Wales, voters will now have to show photo ID at polling stations in some elections including Police and Crime Commissioner elections, UK parliamentary by-elections, Recall petitions and UK General elections.
However, they will not need to show ID to vote at Senedd elections or local council elections as the powers over those voting systems are devolved.
Mr Drakeford said: “The chair of the Electoral Commission himself witnessed people being turned away from polling stations and very concerningly he witnessed those people we rely on to conduct elections suffering abuse from people who felt that they had been unfairly denied their democratic rights.
“I have no doubt at all that Act is part of a deliberate voter suppression agenda pursued by the Conservative government.
“The way they think they can win elections is to learn the lessons from the far-right in the United States, and that is to make it more difficult for people who might not support them to turn up and cast their vote.
“We will not be pursuing that course of action here in Wales. Our policies are designed to make it easier for people to cast their vote, not more difficult,” he added.
“There wasn’t a single prosecution across the whole of the United Kingdom last year for voter fraud. This is a solution in search of a problem, a problem that doesn’t exist.
“The problem that is being created is that people who wish to participate in the democratic process are being denied that right and we will not collude in that in Wales.”
Mr Millar said: “This is about the security and integrity of our elections. We know that across the whole of western Europe voter ID is the norm, and in most western democracies it is the norm.
“But it seems that you have an issue with it, perhaps because of your own party’s record on fraud cases which have happened in Labour areas, such as the Tower Hamlets frauds, the Birmingham frauds as well, back in 2004.”
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I’m not baffled by the Welsh Governments’ position on the matter but then I’m a subscriber to truth, not its’ alternative version.
Please, don’t give us that. We all know why this policy has been taken. The Conservative party is a dying brand, it will do whatever it can to stay in power and keep control. We’ve seen that with recent boundary changes which benefit the Tories more than any other party.
To be fair, the boundary changes wasn’t the Tory party. It’s just happening while they’re in government and benefiting them the most.
It’s almost like the political structure has always had tory-leaning.
This is an answer to a problem that hasn’t yet existed and does create suppression of genuine voters.
I don’t think Drakeford can say it’s a problem that doesn’t exist and will never exist.
Do with that what you will.
Everybody should carry an ID card when they reach 16 like most countries.
I wonder which company will get the contract to check and print the ID cards…? Some years ago two employees at the passport office stole thousands of blank British passports. It will be the same here.
And what does that have to do with voter id? But as you brought it up, why do the UK government go on a out birthplace, when NI number proves right to work. By the way NI cards don’t exist anymore. So using nibto vote would be no different than previous system of saying your name.
Even as a non-labour supporter, you have to respect Drakeford for speaking out on matters like this.
Perfect response to a right-wing policy, not everyone can afford to drive or travel abroad. They shouldn’t be punished for that, especially when they are likely to vote against the current westminster government.
Baffled after 17 years plus as a politician, I don’t believe him but why would he pretend?
Voter fraud is at low levels in the UK. If the tories want to protect the integrity of peoples votes introduce proportional representation and state funding for political parties. Under the current voting system only voters in marginal constituiencies can elect the goverment they choose and vote out the goverment they do not want. Also banning donations to political parties would prevent the rich deciding who wins general elections.
In 2019 58 million votes cast, 1 conviction for impersonation, voter id will lead to compulsory id cards via the back door. Tory fascist state gets closer with every new policy, where the hell is the opposition from Starmer?
His Majesty’s loyal leader of his Majesty’s opposition…
Will Clark Kent emerge from the phone box as Red Sonia one day or will it be Yvette Cooper…
I get confused with all the adverts on this site. Does the Senedd not pay you enough ? The Drakeford talk is an echo of the SNP. Always blame the hand that feeds you…the English and more well off neighbours. Meanwhile , Plaid follow like sheep and say nothing as no one wants to listen. Such is Welsh democracy…that was once only a whisper but now it is nothing. This lot have had a chance but no success.