Voting ID laws for Westminster General Elections ‘will confuse voters’ in Wales says Counsel General
A Welsh Government minister has said that forcing people in Wales to take ID with them to vote in General Elections will “confuse voters” as no such rules exist at Senedd and Council elections.
The Welsh Government has secured concessions that mean large parts of the UK Government’s Elections Bil will not apply to Senedd and local government elections in Wales, both of which are devolved.
However, ID will still be required at Westminster General Elections as those are reserved to the UK Parliament, Counsel General Mick Antoniw said.
“The UK Government plans for voter ID risk making voting harder,” he said. “Though the proposals won’t apply to devolved elections, they will apply to general elections in Wales and I’m concerned this will confuse voters. We have shared our concerns with the UK Government.”
The Senedd will vote on the passage of the UK Government’s Elections Bill today.
The Bill proposes the introduction of mandatory photo ID, as well as measures relating to the administration and conduct of elections, overseas electors and UK citizens, and amendments to the role of the Electoral Commission.
The Welsh Government’s concessions include removing a proposed provision that would have allowed the Secretary of State to direct the Electoral Commission in the discharge of its devolved functions in Wales.
In a Legislative Consent Motion, to be voted on in the Senedd on Tuesday, the Welsh Government is recommending consent is given in two specific areas only – digital imprints and an offence of voter intimidation.
Mick Antoniw, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution, said: “The concessions we have secured to this Bill represent a success for devolution. The Welsh Government is committed to making elections as open and accessible as possible, and to do all in its power to increase participation.
“This is why 16 and 17 year olds and qualifying foreign citizens will be able to vote in local elections in Wales for the first time this May. We are also running pilot schemes in four local authorities designed to make it easier for people to vote at a time and a place that is convenient for them.”
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Constitution, Darren Millar MS, had previously described the Welsh Government’s push for concessions as “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,” he said.
“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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