The former minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has told the BBC that the voter ID system implemented by the Tories has “made it hard for our own voters” to go forward in local elections. Rees-Mogg has suggested that the Conservatives did introduce voter ID to boost their election chances.
The 4th of May elections were the first where the people of Britain had to show their ID (eg. passport or driving licence) to be able to vote. Unfortunately for the Tories, Rees-Mogg has now suggested that the change has “upset a system that worked perfectly well.” The introduction of the ID system was meant to tackle fraud and boost public confidence, but many issues were raised in reaction – including the exclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community and young people.
Rees-Mogg was Commons leader in Boris Johnson’s cabinet and was responsible for passing the legislation to introduce voter ID. Oppositions of the Tory government have voiced concerns long before the voter ID was even put in place, and now Rees-Mogg has spoken out about the “serious problems” it has caused. The local elections saw the Conservatives lose over 1000 councillors and control of 48 councils.
At a conference in London for the Conservative party, Rees-Mogg said the Labour party was “particularly silly” for the idea of extending voting rights to some EU citizens. “Parties that try and gerrymander end up finding that their clever scheme comes back to bite them, as dare I say we found by insisting on voter ID for elections,” he 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. It was done on trust, and the system worked. If there’s any problem in our system, it’s with postal votes, which don’t require voter ID.”
He continued to the BBC that “I thought people assumed that it would help get more Conservatives out and in the end, it actually did the opposite.” He said there was “no evidence that personation [the crime of voter fraud] was a serious problem. There have been hardly any prosecutions or even any complaints in this country over decades.”