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Scotland joins Wales in refusing consent for Westminster Bill which bans those without ID from voting

01 Oct 2021 3 minutes Read
Photo by Elliott Stallion on Unsplash

The Scottish Government has joined the Welsh Parliament in refusing legislative consent to the UK Elections Bill, in a major escalation of opposition to the controversial legislation.

The Senedd refused consent for the bill, which would ban those without ID from voting in General Elections and PCC elections in Wales, at the beginning of September.

Legislative consent is only very rarely refused, making the joint move by Scotland and Wales’ government’s highly significant. Out of more than 350 legislative consent motions, consent has been denied just 13 times, according to the Institute for Government.

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Sweeney lodged a legislation consent memorandum in the Scottish Parliament this week which recommends that Holyrood does not give consent to the legislation noting: “The Scottish Government considers that there is no evidence of significant electoral fraud to justify voter ID measures in Scotland.”

He added that it would cause confusion, with voters in Scotland forced to show photo ID for General Elections but not Holyrood.

‘Two-tier’

Willie Sullivan, Senior Director of Electoral Reform Society Scotland said: “The Elections Bill is not just a bad piece of legislation but a dangerous one – it’s a bill that makes sweeping changes to our democracy that could see thousands of Scots turned away from the ballot box.

“There is much to be done to improve our elections across the UK, but instead of tackling the real issues, this legislation would threaten free and fair elections in Scotland. The Holyrood Government is right to oppose it and should hold firm.

“At a cost of up to £180m per decade, forcing this through is a grotesque priority for UK ministers right now. Far from protecting the integrity of our elections, it’s a costly barrier to democracy instead.

“This Elections Bill will lead to a ‘two-tier franchise’ in Scotland, with some elections banning those without ID, and others remaining open and free. Now both Holyrood and the Welsh Parliament have refused to support it ministers at Westminster must go back to the drawing board and think again.”

‘Confusion’

Last month Wales’ Counsel General Mick Antoniw said today that the Welsh Government is pushing for amendments to the legislation.

“The Welsh Government does not support the introduction of voter ID, the placing of unnecessary constraints on postal and proxy voting, or the extension of the overseas franchise,” he said.

“We are content that the Bill does not apply these to Wales, but we are concerned about potential unintended consequences such as voter and candidate confusion and complexity for administrators.”

He added that he was concerned with changes to the Electoral Committee and its relationship with the Llywydd’s Committee which scrutinises it.

“I cannot, therefore, currently recommend consent to the Bill. We are working with the UK Government with a view to seeking amendments to the Bill to reflect our policy position,” he said.

However, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Constitution, Darren Millar MS has said: “This is nothing more than mischief-making from the Welsh Government and its allies.

“Voters in Wales have nothing to fear from these proposals. The only people who should be concerned are those who intend to commit election fraud.

“People are required to present ID to vote in many vibrant democracies around the world including Canada, Norway, the Netherlands, France, Iceland and Italy so I see no reason why this shouldn’t be the norm here in Wales.”

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Gareth
Gareth
21 days ago

But should not Darren Millar be in opposition to the changes to the voting system, as they will cost millions, and he opposed devolution of the justice system on cost, and as the UK Gov has stated in a parliamentary reply, there is no fraud in UK elections, 6 cases out of 47.6 million registered voters, at the last general election.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
20 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

Be useful if the UK did what all those countries Darren mentioned do and issued state or national ID documents. Until they do I can see me approaching the polling station with a tube of Araldite close at hand.

j humphrys
j humphrys
20 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

Tory vote: 43%. Combined others: 67%. Discussion surely useless?

Sian
Sian
20 days ago
Reply to  j humphrys

Don’t understand this point. They have a huge majority in parliament. Unless their own MPs oppose the bill.

Crwtyn Cemais
Crwtyn Cemais
20 days ago
Reply to  Sian

Y pwynt yw: bod rhaid i ni ymgyrchu tros system etholiadol o Gynrychiolaeth Gyfrannol ~ The point is: we need to campaign for an electoral system of Proportional Representation.

Quornby
Quornby
20 days ago

The Westminster Bill is just another Tory gerrymandering move…..a crime against democracy… the latest of many. They will rule England (and the other three nations) at 9 elections out of 10 because of
England’s population size. It’s time for us to go. Independence ASAP.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
20 days ago

Well done the SNP for joining Wales in rejecting their consent for this bilious bill.

The English Tories cynical ploy to alienate and deter electorate from poor & deprived communities by putting hurdles in the way of voting is why I despise the Conservative party with a passion.

Sian
Sian
20 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

One of the many valid reasons

Andy O'Sullivan
Andy O'Sullivan
20 days ago

Interesting to note how similar this ploy is to the many similar ploys being perpetrated in the USA at a Federal level by the likes of Trump and at a state level by Republican dominated Southern states. Again, the call is that it is to combat non-existent election fraud that has been clearly disproved. I’m no expert in electoral matters, but, reading the likes of the Guardian, I’m seeing this pattern emerge. In both cases, the US and here, it is clearly an outrageously cynical attempt to discourage unwelcome voters from voting for those bringing in the measures. In the… Read more »

Robert Williams
Robert Williams
20 days ago

Thanks, Andy, an excellent summary

Andy O'Sullivan
Andy O'Sullivan
20 days ago

After reading and commenting on this article (see above), I came across this article in the Guardian today by Jonathan Freedman, who puts the same points, but, with erudition and eloquence I can’t match.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/oct/01/boris-johnson-rigging-the-system-power-courts-protest-elections

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