UK Announces Voter ID Requirement

( If it can happen there…

In her ceremonial annual speech to Parliament on Tuesday setting out the legislative agenda for the year ahead, Queen Elizabeth II revealed one of the Conservative Party’s initiatives to require photographic identification in future elections beginning in 2023.

As of now, UK voters are only required to give their name and address—except in Northern Ireland which has required voter ID since 2003.

Similar to opposition found in the U.S. to voter ID laws, according to prominent Labour Party leaders, voter ID requirements will impact minorities and the poor the most. David Lammy, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, called the effort “a cynical and ugly attempt to rig the system to disempower the poorest and most marginalized groups.” Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy similarly tweeted that the legislation would “disproportionately disenfranchise Black, Asian and minority ethnic voters.”

Lammy also pushed back on the idea that further security measures were necessary, alleging that “in the 2019 election, there was just one conviction from voter fraud.”

The coming political fight in the UK mirrors the debate raging here in the U.S. over voter ID and the individual states that have dared to enact or put forward photo ID legislation. Most recently, changes in Georgia’s voting laws have triggered a backlash from major corporations doing business in the state such as Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola, as well as from major figures in entertainment. Major League Baseball moved its All-Star Game from Atlanta in protest, even over objections from the Atlanta Braves organization.

The Queen’s speech comes on the heels of last week’s British elections, and a big Conservative Party electoral victory. In both local races and in Parliament, Conservatives added to their majorities—a relatively unusual occurrence for a party in power now for eleven years. Tory victories in working class areas of Northeast England were particularly biting for Labour which held those areas for decades. Despite a change in leadership for Labour since the resignation of Jeremy Corbyn, it seems the party has yet to finding a winning formula.

The Conservative Party’s rise in former Labour strongholds dominated by the white working class again mirrors the success of Donald Trump in capturing formerly Democratic areas of the country, particularly in the industrial Midwest.

If the trend holds, it’s possible more Republican electoral success (and stricter voter ID requirements) may be right around the corner.