Voter ID pilots could undermine democratic right to vote, says Salvation Army
published on 27 Jul 2018
Today The Salvation Army is adding its voice to an open letter to government from the Electoral Reform Society, which expresses concern over voter IDs at elections following the roll-out of a number of pilots across the country in May where local election voters were asked to present their ID at polling stations.
In a statement the church and charity commented: “In a functioning democracy, it is vital that everyone feels included and that people are able to make their voices heard on the issues that are important to them and their communities. As such, The Salvation Army is concerned that the government’s recent voter ID pilots will only serve to undermine the democratic rights of those who wish to vote, but may not possess the necessary identification to satisfy the new requirements imposed by the pilots.
“Across the breadth of our support services, we regularly work with people who have experienced severe disruption to their domestic lives. Often this instability, which can include experiences of homelessness, domestic violence, and mental and physical ill-health, will leave people without the means to obtain or safely store important documentation, such as a passport. Rather than adding to the democratic process, The Salvation Army believes that measures such as the voter ID pilots will only serve to enhance the systemic barriers to wider participation in society that so many of the people with whom we work already face.
“In the pilot area of Swindon, The Salvation Army was able to support people to vote using their polling card. This level of support was available due to the existence of a long standing support network, which has been developed by staff and local people over a number of years. However, this level of support was only feasible due to the ‘light touch’ approach of the pilot in Swindon. Had we been working in an area where additional and multiple forms of photo ID were required, the impact on staff time and resources would have become untenable. This simply would not be viable on a large, national scale.”