Plans to make voters show identification at the polling booth have been slammed as an “attack on democracy” by Sheffield councillors.
The Government wants voters to present photographic ID before being given a ballot paper in an attempt to combat “voter personation” where people vote with someone else’s identity.
A trial scheme will take place in five local authorities in May for the local elections, and the government hope that after this pilot the changes can be rolled out nationally.
But Coun Chris Rosling-Josephs says demanding ID could “undermine engagement” at local elections, where turnout is notoriously low to begin with.
He said: “Electoral fraud is a serious crime and should, of course, be combated, however there is simply not enough evidence of voter fraud in the UK to justify these potentially damaging pilots, which threaten to disenfranchise members of some of the most vulnerable groups of society.
“Last year there were only 28 allegations of impersonation out of nearly 45 million votes — one case for every 1.6 million votes cast – with only one of these allegations resulting in a conviction.”
Coun Rosling-Josephs says it will alienate certain groups of people who don’t usually have driving licences or passports.
He added: “The government are proposing nothing short of an attack on our democracy.
“If rolled out nationally these changes could have a huge bearing and result in many legitimate voters being turned away.
“It is my belief that poorer groups are less likely to have access to appropriate ID, such as driving licences, meaning the pilot could disenfranchise the poor, it is outrageous to try to create hurdles for people to vote.”