The former minister in Boris Johnson’s Government has admitted that the requirement to show ID at polling stations was an attempt to advantage his party, reports Adam Bienkov
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The introduction of mandatory voter ID by the Government was an attempt to “gerrymander” future elections for the Conservative Party, former minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has said.
The ex-Brexit Minister, who was part of Boris Johnson’s Government that introduced plans to force voters to present photo ID at polling stations, told the National Conservatism Conference in London that the plans were a “clever scheme” by his party to swing voters in their favour.
However, he suggested that the plans had “backfired” due to more older Conservative voters being less aware of the changes at the recent local elections.
“Parties that try and gerrymander end up finding their clever scheme comes back to bite them, as dare I say we found by insisting on voter ID for elections”, Mogg said.
“We found the people who didn’t have ID were elderly and they, by and large, voted Conservative. So we made it hard for our own voters and we upset a system that worked perfectly well.”
Rees-Mogg previously defended the controversial policy, when he was Leader of the House, under Boris Johnson.
Answering questions about the proposals in 2021, Rees-Mogg suggested that opposition to the plan was due to “socialist” parties being less confident that their own voters would be able to turn up with photo ID, compared to Conservative voters.
“We have confidence in our voters… who won’t find it unduly onerous to turn up with an identity document of some kind,” he told MPs.
Rees-Mogg’s latest comments are the first admission from a senior Conservative figure that the voter ID plan was brought forward to help the party’s electoral chances.
Rishi Sunak has repeatedly defended the policy as a means of tackling “the potential for voter fraud”. But there is little evidence of in-person voter fraud in the UK. At the 2019 General Election, there was just one conviction for impersonation at polling stations.
However, new polling by Omnisis for Byline Times suggests that up to two million voters were put off from voting at the recent local elections due to the new requirements.
Early figures from some councils also suggest that, in some areas, hundreds of people were turned away from the polls.
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