Orkney and Shetland MP and Liberal Democrat spokesperson on political reform, Alistair Carmichael, has spoken out about concerns over the quality of data used to support government plans to require photo ID for all voters in future elections. Raising the matter in the House of Commons, Mr Carmichael asked what assessment the Electoral Commission had made of the adequacy of data on electoral fraud used in support of Government proposals to introduce voter ID.
Responding for the Speaker’s committee, Christian Matheson MP said:
“The commission collects and annually publishes data from all UK police forces on allegations of electoral fraud. The data show that the UK has low levels of proven fraud. In 2019, police forces across the UK recorded 34 cases of alleged personation in polling stations, which resulted in one conviction and one police caution. The commission has no reliable method to estimate how much electoral fraud goes unreported.”
Speaking in the House Mr Carmichael asked:
“If the data show low levels [of alleged fraud], it is curious that the Commission should have concluded that some measure of voter identification was necessary. May I ask the hon. Member to convey to the commission the view that, in fact, a rather more robust and substantial data gathering exercise is required before the case can truly be said to be made for changes in voter identification?”
Responding, Mr Matheson agreed to pass these concerns on to the Commission.
Reacting after the exchange Mr Carmichael said:
“It is concerning that so much of the government’s approach to voter ID appears to be based on ropey data and an intent to make the facts fit a pre-determined narrative. We know that whether on vaccine passports, protest crackdowns or ID card requirements, this government talks about our freedoms while acting to restrict them. Any changes to the law which have the effect of putting barriers between us and our rights as citizens should have the highest level of scrutiny.”