- administrative problems - one polling station had a fire alarm and had to set up a temporary polling station in the back of a car until the all-clear was given
- Bureaucratic hurdles - queues are more likely in higher density urban areas
- Accessibility - polling stations being located in buildings without disabled access.
- Impersonation and fraud - pilot studies looked into the impact of voter ID on levels of fraud
Accessibility is a big issue as it's hard to know how many people are being prevented from even reaching the polling station. Steps to the building were common, and in some cases people had to walk long distances to get to the polling station.
The Conversation piece says that Eric Pickles, who wrote a report on voter fraud, claims that some communities are more prone to electoral fraud than others,Access to the buildings was sometimes problematic. One poll worker noted that:School gates were closed and no one was there to open them so voters, disabled or not, were
having to walk a long distance to get to us. Some even said they were going to turn around
and go home rather than coming in. Some voters could have done this without our knowledge.
The study found no basis for this claim. The good news is that the vast majority of polling station workers saw no evidence of any voter intimidation and there is no evidence of differences between ethnicities. The bad news is that where voter intimidation was seen it was often gendered, with men telling women how to vote.Pickles has also concentrated the public’s eye by claiming that electoral fraud is a problem “especially in communities of Pakistani and Bangladeshi background”. The problem has not been tackled, he argued, because of “over-sensitivities about ethnicity and religion”.
In the matter of votor fraud, the study compared polling stations that were piloting voter ID with those that were not. Impersonation was not a problem in either case.
To directly test Eric Pickles' claim about Pakistani and Bangaladeshi communities, the study looked at voter fraud by ethnicity. They found that,
The voter ID requirements had some unexpected downsides,There is therefore little statistical or qualitative evidence based on these surveys to suggest that problems with fraud is higher in these communities than any others.
As the study is a survey of polling station workers it is unable to quantify the numbers of people who don't make it as far as the station, either due to accessibility issues or due to a lack of suitable ID in those areas that piloted ID requirements. They do point out, however, thatDid the piloting of voter identification have any effect on the running of the poll? There was virtually no difference between the pilot and non-pilot areas in terms of whether electoral fraud was suspected. We might imply from this that the scheme had no effect – but a difference was probably never likely given that suspected fraud was so infrequent in the first place. Interestingly, a higher proportion of respondents in the pilot areas reported encountering electors whose identity they were unsure of. In the pilot areas 7.2% of poll workers encountered electors whose identity they were suspicious about. In the nonpilot areas, the figure was 4.7%. An ANOVA crosstab table Chi-square tests were run to see whether this different was statistically significant. It was significant at the p < .001 level. Voter ID requirements therefore seemed to make poll workers slightly less confident. (emphasis in the original, p14)
Analysis of the pilot study data found that over a third of people who were turned away for not having the correct ID did not return to vote. The Electoral Commission conducted a survey and found that while very few people said that voter ID would impact them due to practical or philosophical concerns,some voters did not vote or present voter ID out of ideological reasons. This presents an important new link between voter identification requirements and turnout which has not been discussed in the literature to date.
Voter ID requirements are a like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. There is no evidence of voter fraud at any level. Full Fact says that,Most people in the pilot scheme said it made no difference or made them more likely to vote (90%). However, a notable minority said it made them less likely to vote (3%), that they didn’t have ID (1%) or that they didn’t know (6%). Non-voters on 2 May were more likely than voters to say that they would be negatively affected or that they were unsure.(my emphasis)
The amount of money and bureaucracy being wasted on these trials is a disgrace. Instead we should be focusing attention on ensuring that polling station workers receive proper training and that fully accessible buildings are being chosen as polling stations. Disenfranchisement is more of a threat to our democracy than voter fraud. Indeed,The average number of alleged cases per year between 2010 and 2017 was 22.
These pilots were voluntary, with participating councils effectively self-selecting in applying to participate (Cabinet Office 2018a)... Critics of the 2018 pilots noted that most of the participating councils were located in the South of England, traditionally a Conservative-voting region. Indeed, four of the five pilot authorities had Conservative majorities in the 2018 local elections (Dempsey 2018)... The Conservative Party were the largest in all but one of the councils after the 2019 elections, being the majority in three, and the largest party in a no overall control situation in a further six (Uberoi 2019).