Legal proceedings have begun against the Government following a £20,000 crowdfunding campaign, which was backed by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Neil Coughlan, from Essex, has hired the law firm Leigh Day to challenge the implementation of pilot schemes to require everyone in political referendums and general elections to provide either a passport or a driving license in order to be allowed to vote.
Coughlan has decided to take legal proceedings after not being able to vote in the 2017 general election due to lacking photographic ID, along with many of his own neighbours.
The Voter ID Scheme could leave the estimated 3.5 million registered voters in the UK who do not have any photo ID, and potentially 11 million registered voters who don’t have a physical copy of a passport or drivers license, unable to vote in general elections.
In 2017, there were only 28 cases of fraud out of over 40 million votes cast in the 2017 general election.
The voter ID pilot schemes, which were implemented in 11 councils in the UK, saw 1036 voters being turned away due to having insufficient Identification, and 330 of these voters didn’t return afterwards with the correct ID, leading to 330 citizens being unable to cast their votes.
Tessa Gregory, the solicitor leading the proceedings, said that the voter ID plans would “suppress voter participation, particularly in less affluent wards, where turnout is all too often, already low.”
Leigh Day contests the voter ID schemes as a breach of the Representation of the People Act 2000, which argues that the government cannot legally make changes to voting that makes it harder for people to vote, and it is a requirement that these changes are decided in Parliament, and not by the Executive of a sitting Government on its own.
Neil Coughlan has made a statement mentioning that the Conservative Government’s “dangerous Voter ID plans” will adversely impact less affluent parts of the UK, which are areas that commonly vote Labour in elections.
The case is due to be heard on the 27th of February 2019.