Huw Edwards discusses 'voter suppression' after Queen's Speech
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SNP ministers at Holyrood and Labour chiefs at Cardiff have slated the UK Government’s Elections Bill, which would come into effect from September 2022. John Swinney, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister lodged a legislative consent memorandum in the Scottish Parliament on Friday on behalf of the SNP-led Scottish Government.
He said: “The Scottish Government considers that there is no evidence of significant electoral fraud to justify voter ID measures in Scotland.”
Mr Swinney stressed it would cause confusion with voters in Scotland forced to show photo ID for UK general elections but not in Holyrood related ones.
The Welsh Senedd has also refused consent for the bill following a memorandum lodged by Welsh ministers.
Mick Antoniw, Wales’ Counsel General, said the Welsh Government was also pushing for amendments to the legislation.
He added: “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.
“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.”
Legislative consent is required from the Devolved administrations for UK Parliament bills.
Consent is very rarely refused, making the move by the Scottish and Welsh Parliament’s highly unusual.
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.
“Far from protecting the integrity of our elections, it’s a costly barrier to democracy instead.
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“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.”
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “Stealing someone’s vote is stealing their voice and fraud in our elections is something we cannot allow room for.
“So we are preventing this from happening by requiring photographic identification.”
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