back to article 'A sledgehammer to crack a nut': Charities slam UK voter ID trials

Mandatory voter ID trials are "dangerous" and won't stop the main cause of election fraud, UK government has been told. A group of 40 charities and academics have written to Chloe Smith, minister for the constitution, setting out their concerns about voter ID pilots planned for May's local elections. The government is …

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Alternative solutions offered – which include the use of utility bills – "are also problematic" because they lack photo ID, are easier to fake and are again inaccessible to people who don't pay bills.

And increasingly, don't exist, as more and more utility companies are offering incentives to customers to use online billing instead of paper.

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Can we stop this WW2 regurgitation nonsense. We are not in the late 1940-es and it is not that ID card.

The norm worldwide is to have a photo ID and to use it for the purpose of proving who are you on the voter roll. It is only US and UK continuing to fret on the subject about underrepresented minorities. Under-represented minorities also party on Ibiza you know and for that they need a passport (definitely was the case last time I flew there).

There are plenty of countries which are SIGNIFICANTLY more liberal and democratic despite having a National ID and requiring a photo ID for nearly everything including voting. For example - I have not noticed any Scandinavian country going to the dark side of fascism just yet.

It is not like the UK govt does not have at least several complete databases covering everyone from the cradle to the grave. Not having an expression of that in the form of ID is actually a HUGE extra cost which we pay for every time we deal with services, elections, credits, mortgages or even basic things like enforcing traffic offence tickets.

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Anonymous Coward

Perhaps those countries can tolerate identity cards precisely because they are significantly more liberal and democratic.

If the Swedish or German government inroduced an ID card, would I trust them to make individual privacy a top priority, and to not subvert the scheme into a means of tracking every detail of their subjects' activities? Possibly. Would I trust Amber Rudd with the same question? Absolutely not.

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Labour was going to bring in an I.D card when they was last in power, they spent millions on it and yet when the Tories got in it was scraped. So many was against it that it would have cost even more to go after the people who would have refused to register and that would include me.

While the Tories did say they wanted to bring in a voluntary I.D card before they lost power to Labour it never happened.

I think it will be many years before the U.K have an I.D Card system, if it ever does. Now that we are leaving the E.U, it will become less likely, because to be honest I had visions of the E.U forcing one onto E.U countries.

We have managed without I.D cards for years and we do not need them now.

Not that any of the parties in this country are worth voting for anyway, all a waste of space.

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Re: the dark side of fascism

Fascism has a light side? Who knew?

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Scandinavia

At least in Norway you have an ID on the bank card (well, a picture, and the name is on it anyway, and it counts as ID for most uses)... but you could argue that it is sort of a communist state ;-p so the Brits don't want to copy that...

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FTA: "...individual votes only hold any value when thousands of others are cast in the same way – meaning "it's simply impractical to steal enough votes to make a tangible difference"."

There would be a significant amount of work involved which probably explains why there were only 44 allegations. To make any tangible difference you'd have to implement fraud on an industrial scale as you'd need to steal perhaps a few hundred (local authority) or more (GE) votes, assuming it's not a marginal. To do that you'd need to organise lots of different "thieves" to go and vote early before the real people showed up as the polling station staff will likely get suspicious when one person votes repeatedly. You'd also have to avoid the returning officer declaring the poll void due to repeated people showing up wondering why their vote has already been unexpectedly cast. This is already a helluva lot of work to make any difference and even then it may possibly sway the outcome of only one constituency (out of 650 parliamentary constituencies in the UK) so you'd need a serious reason to do it.

It's much easier to persuade the electorate with a fat pack of demonstrable lies while getting your mates in the media to run repeated stories that back up your claims; then let the more credulous elements of the electorate do the hard work for you. Red bus anyone?

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Labour *DID* bring in an ID Card system, it was scrapped by both the Tories (on financial grounds) and the Lib Dems (on the basis of civil liberty/privacy concerns).

Had it been merely an ID Card which establishes that the owner is who they say they are and a PKI cert so the owner could do the same for online transactions (exactly as they do in many other countries) then we'd probably still have it and there wouldn't have ever been a problem for most people. It would be quite useful for the homeless I'd have thought (once their ID was initially established, which is not always trivial).

Unfortunately that is not what we got... instead what we got was a vastly overreaching biometric database that logged every time it was accessed (forever) that could not be proved wrong in court (leading to an effective end-run around habeas corpus), that broke the web of trust based around other forms of ID, provided a single point of failure/weakness for identity theft and was really a multi-billion pound boondoggle for whoever got the backhander from Crapita.

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Card not the problem.

The idea of an ID card wasn't the problem. It was the massive database of every personal detail that was the problem.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Scandinavia

"[...] bank card [...]"

IIRC Barclays and/or Barclaycard allow you to submit any picture you wish to personalise your plastic cards.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Card not the problem.

The last ID card attempt brought up the folk memory of the case in the 1950s - when a man refused to show his wartime ID card to a policeman. IIRC the outcome was the voiding of all the ID card regulations. Too many overtones of "Papers please".

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Anonymous Coward

"To make any tangible difference you'd have to implement fraud on an industrial scale [...]"

Postal votes are the easy target since it became possible to ask for one without any proven reason why you couldn't vote in person. IIRC there has been proven rigging in at least one local election on a relatively large scale. Usually candidates' supporters "helping" people to fill them in.

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European ID cards

If the Swedish or German government inroduced an ID card, would I trust them to make individual privacy a top priority, and to not subvert the scheme into a means of tracking every detail of their subjects' activities? Possibly. Would I trust Amber Rudd with the same question? Absolutely not.

Germany does have ID cards - they're administrated by the Länder, the 16 federal states, but are now printed centrally. The Länder are on strict instructions, that should the Federal Government become authoritarian, they are to destroy their records. The reasons for this should be obvious to all.

Sweden also has ID cards.

The EU has a list of all identifying documents issued by each member. However, it doesn't indicate what can be used if the police ask you for ID. Britain is one of the few countries that accept your driver's license, which doesn't indicate your citizenship, only which country it was issued by. However, the police will check with the Home Office if they have doubts over a persons citizenship.

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Anonymous Coward

Umm...the German government DO have an ID card, and introduced it decades ago. It's a legal requirement to own one, or a passport.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_identity_card

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Re: the dark side of fascism

> Fascism has a light side? Who knew?

Springtime for Hitler, maybe?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPXHRX8Q2hs

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Gimp

It was the massive database of every personal detail that was the problem.

Indeed.

The "National Identity Register" and its cradle-to-grave surveillance of everything and everyone.

Decades after the IRA ceased to be a serious threat to UK, as opposed to the assorted jackasses making up the so-called "Islamist threat," which the data fetishists of the Home Office big up at every opportunity.

In common law countries no one is required to have a government issued document (of any kind) to validate who they are.

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@ Voland's right hand - Fail!

minorities also party on Ibiza you know and for that they need a passport (definitely was the case last time I flew there).

A driving licence is for driving. Not all driving licences have a photo. Not everybody can drive.

A passport is for foreign travel. If you don't travel abroad you shouldn't need one.

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Germany has had ID cards since before WW2. Although the allies introduced a reformed version after the war. This has been superseded a few times, before we come to the current version.

Everybody must carry a form of identification with them - I am not a German citizen, so I don't get the ID card (Ausweis), so I have to carry my UK passport. The German ID card is also chipped and can be used to register for some online services, although it is still not widely supported.

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> Everybody must carry a form of identification with them ...

Actually not as I remember it. You need to have an ID card (Ausweispflicht) but unless you are working in certain fields (cannot remember which ones) you do not have to have it with you (Mitführpflicht) - as far as I recall. Might be different for foreigners, but I'm not sure about that. I carry it with me anyway... (and also have it with me abroad while the passport stays in the hotel safe - need that to go back home - wherever that is now...)

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You are technically correct, there is no "Mitführpflicht", but if you are stopped, you have to show it... I believe it is at the discretion of the police, whether you can go and fetch it yourself and go to a police station or whether they accompany you "back home" (or wherever) to collect it or held until somebody else turns up with your ID - a pain if you are visiting the friends at the other end of the country and have to wait a day until someone can bring your ID...

Certainly, if the Zoll (Customs & Excise) do a raid on a business, E.g. looking for illegal workers, they will usually accompany anyone who doesn't have their ID with them as they go and collect it or hold them until somebody can bring the ID along.

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Anonymous Coward

UK has an ID card system - it's a maze of poor quality databases

i discovered this when I flew in to UK for a ISO/IEC technical committee meeting at the Home Office Passport department. I had booked a rental car at Luton Airport. I arrived with my UK biometric Passport, my UK Driving license and various scraps of paper with codes on them. The car rental company and its car-service provider were not able to offer me my booked & paid-for car. Why? although I had all this hard ID credentials, they explained that I didnt exist on any of their available UK databases, I was a ghost.

The German ISO/IEC Passport expert pointed out that their population register would have allowed me my car, and it was our blind insistence on only having super squirrel secret spook databases rather than a useful civil database that caused & causes 800 million youths from across the world to strive to get to the UK, as no pop.reg. means no easy immigration situation.

(the Labour ID card was probably also canned because the gov couldnt afford to scrap and unify the current (faulty) GIGO databases - which contain quite a lot of real data (equifax etc) inside, but quite a lot of wrong info also, into a single good database , sort of bulk citizen database, but available for civil use.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: the dark side of fascism

the lighter side

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When asked "minorities" tend to quite offended anyone should assume they don't have ID. It tends to go with a home, a job, transport (personal or public), a bank account, a passport, social welfare. If anything they may be MORE likely to be able to present ID.

The simple truth is that anyone a nation should want to vote has ID or can obtain such with trivial inconvenience

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Almost certainly people with no presentable means of identification or who refuse to obtain such should not be voting!

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Re: Scandinavia

It has been obvious to anyone with a brain that Banks should be given this cost. All bank cards and credit cards to have photo ID and biometric data onboard. No excuse for most people after that.

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Postal votes are the bigger problem

A combination of "the head of the household" and "community leaders" helping people complete the postal or proxy vote application. (especially where literacy is an issue).

As for ID cards - yes we should have them but the model set up by the last labour government was too intrusive, too expensive and the benefits to ordinary citizens not convincingly communicated. Base it on a successful model from elsewhere in Europe.

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Re: Scandinavia

Hey Adolf Mac piss off with your fascist ideals, they have no place in a free and democratic society.

Plus how do you suggest banks collect these photos and biometric data when most people don't have a branch conveniently nearby and some banks are online-only?

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Smoke and mirrors

This is all smoke and mirrors. The present government is trying to rid the electoral roll of everyone who doesn't vote for them. Students are better informed than most Sun readers so they must go. The homeless will almost certainly be unhappy with austerity so lets make home ownership/residence a condition of voting. Nothing that has been suggested by government so far is free of a hidden agenda. Perhaps if they concentrated on the problem of identity without trying to gain some secondary benefit it could be resolved quite fairly. While we are on the subject of fraud what has happened to the inquiry about the Tory company who were telephoning voters in marginal seats to convince them to vote Tory right up till the morning of voting?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Scandinavia

"All bank cards and credit cards to have photo ID and biometric data onboard. "

IIRC a lot of people in the UK can't get a bank account. Apart from financial considerations like credit checks etc - it also needs identification. Catch-22.

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Anonymous Coward

44 allegations

Only a single case found to be true.

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Re: 44 allegations

When student union leaders were actively instructing people to double vote and where it is very difficult to verify who has voted twice, of course it was more than 44 people who double voted.

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Re: 44 allegations

> Only a single case found to be true.

But in spite of this, the wrong lizards keep getting re-elected.

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Re: 44 allegations

Not being from the UK, I wonder how that works? Don't you have voter lists where every voter is being struck out when they have voted?

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Re: 44 allegations

yes ...

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Re: 44 allegations

Students are legally allowed to be registered at both their home address and their college address but (in a general election) can only vote in one place - they get to choose which but don't have to tell anybody and there's no cross checking.

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Re: 44 allegations

Students go off to their university can vote there - they're not supposed to vote at home, but aren't removed from the list for their home ward too.

There is evidence that student union leaders were actively telling other students to go and vote twice in order to favour the marxist* opposition. Unfortunately the punishment for both crimes isn't ten years in jail.

* Yes really. No that isn't hyperbole anymore. "I am the last marxist in parliament" said the shadow chancellor. The leader of the opposition spent a recent holiday in Mexico to visit the house of his idol Leon Trotsky.

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Flame

Re: 44 allegations

When student union leaders were actively instructing people to double vote and where it is very difficult to verify who has voted twice, of course it was more than 44 people who double voted.

[Citation required]

I'm going to call bullshit on this one.

Last time I went to cast my vote, they found my name on the list and crossed it off before handing me the voting papers. This is how the prevent double-voting, and is how they have done it in every election I have voted in back to the early '90s.

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Re: 44 allegations

@Loyal Commenter

But as a student your details are present on two different lists in two different polling stations.

Now do you understand the potential issue?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 44 allegations

there is nothing wrong with marxist, its the leninist/stalinist bit you want to avoid

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Re: 44 allegations

No that isn't hyperbole anymore. "I am the last marxist in parliament" said the shadow chancellor. The leader of the opposition spent a recent holiday in Mexico to visit the house of his idol Leon Trotsky.

What a lovely quote taken out of context. The sort of dark-arts propaganda one would expect to see coming from Goebbels.

A couple of years a go, I went to Berlin for a short break. As part of this, I visited such places as Checkpoint Charlie, the former headquarters of the STASI, the holocaust memorials (the well known one, as well as the ones in the Tiergarten), and the site of the former SS headquarters. By your logic, I should be viewed simultaneously as a Soviet tank driver, an American tank driver, a Stalinist, a Jew, a Homosexual, a Sinti, a Roma, and a blackshirt.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 44 allegations

There is no evidence that the students did though (other than the one instance). I suggest you go to the middle of the street and cluck like a chicken. Doesn’t mean you will, or have done.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 44 allegations

Check both lists, is the name crossed off on both? Yes or no. If yes, voted twice. There is only a single case of this having happened. 1 case.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 44 allegations

And voter ID itself will make no difference to the ability to be registered at both.

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Re: 44 allegations

Check both lists, is the name crossed off on both? Yes or no. If yes, voted twice. There is only a single case of this having happened. 1 case.

Well there's only asingle case of it being shown to have happened maybe, but that doesn't prove anything. As it's a check that's not normally made.

Not that I suspect it's happened all that much, as it would mean travelling to two polling stations in different towns on the same day. Or going to the trouble of getting a postal voting form for one (or both) of them.

But given we don't run regular checks on this, you wouldn't expect many cases to show up.

If there is wide scale electoral fraud, it's much more likely to happen with the postal voting system. Where it's much easier to carry out. Relatively easy to steal all the votes of people sharing a house for example (as well as some that have since moved on).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 44 allegations

44 allegations. I suspect the check was made at least 44 times.

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Re: 44 allegations

How many lefty students are organised enough to vote at uni and at home on the same day? Who's paying for the transport, the Marxist Leninist student vote doubling committee? I can guarantee if those lazy bastard have got the coach fare home it's going on weed not vote rigging.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 44 allegations

In UK anyone can apply for a postal vote so its quite possible for students to have received 2 ballot papers for different constituencies and decide which one to use and return. There was a big campaign to get people, especially students, to register before the last election and getting a postal vote is just a matter of ticking a box on the web page. N.b. probably the easy access to postal votes is more likely to be a source of electoral fraud

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Re: 44 allegations

"Now do you understand the potential issue?"

Yes and no. I understand that there is a known group of people who appear on lists in more than one constituency. I understand that they are crossed off when they vote in either constituency. I understand the need for *how* you voted to be private.

I do not understand why *whether* you voted should be private and therefore do not understand why someone can't spend some time cross-checking the two lists. If you don't like it, you could always ask for yourself to be removed from one of the lists.

I also don't understand why so much effort is expended against people who vote in person when the majority of proven fraud is through the postal vote system. It's almost like they don't actually want to reduce voter fraud, as long as it is the kind of fraud that the parties control.

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My recollection is that I've always received a polling card through the post before a local or general election, which I've presented to the officiating officer at the polling station prior to voting.

Is this voter ID trial more about saving on printing and postage, I wonder, than it is about voter fraud?

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My recollection is that I've always received a polling card through the post before a local or general election, which I've presented to the officiating officer at the polling station prior to voting.

You do receive a card, but that's more of a confirmation that you are registered, and informing you which polling station you are registered at. It is not required to actually vote.

If you turn up without your polling card and simply tell them your name they will issue your ballot paper (and strike through your name on their list, preventing you voting again later).

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My recollection is that I've always received a polling card through the post before a local or general election, which I've presented to the officiating officer at the polling station prior to voting.

There is no need to present your polling card. I rarely do. You just have to give a name that corresponds to one on the electoral roll at your designated polling station. You get ticked off their list. Double voting is only easy if you are on more than one electoral roll which students are quite likely to be.

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