Bath MP Wera Hobhouse has voted against the Elections Bill which came back for its third reading in the House of Commons this week. Mrs Hobhouse states that the bill is immoral and will disenfranchise some voters.
The bill seeks to remove EU citizens' right to vote in local elections, and will impose mandatory voter ID at polling stations. This could see millions turned away if they do not have the required identification. The bill would also give ministers new powers over the work of the Electoral Commission.
Additionally, campaigners and the cross-party House of Commons Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) have advised that the bill’s proposals lack a sufficient evidence base, timely consultation, and transparency. Other criticism includes Ministers sneaking in changes to the electoral system for Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners, and adding new clauses at the committee stage which would see the Supplementary Vote downgrades in favour of imposing First Past the Post. In particular, mandatory voter ID has been criticised as not only expensive but impacting voters’ ability to vote.
The Lib Dems proposed an amendment calling for Proportional Representation in Westminster elections but didn't end up going to a vote.
Commenting after, Wera Hobhouse MP said:
“The bill is yet another attempt to undermine democracy by this Conservative Government. It is a blatant attack on our democracy and risks disenfranchising people. You cannot strengthen democracy by making it harder for people to vote. I strongly oppose the elements of this bill and see it for what it is - a shameless power grab from a Government who are trying to suppress protests and make it harder for people to vote. This bill erodes public confidence in our democracy at a time when it is already shattered because of the Conservative Party’s shocking rule-breaking.”