Voter ID proposals risk disenfranchising the most marginalised women

Date Posted: Thursday 19th December 2019

WBG is concerned that plans to require voters to bring photographic identification to polling stations in order to be allowed to vote could disenfranchise marginalised BAME women and poorer women most.

Women make up the majority of the UK’s poor as well as being the majority (90%) of single mothers – 45% of whom are living in poverty according to Department of Work and Pensions statistics[1]. Photographic ID is not a legal requirement in the UK therefore many citizens who can’t afford to go on foreign holidays don’t have passports, and those that can’t drive don’t have driving licences.

The Electoral Commissions estimates that 3.5 million citizens do not have access to photo ID and 11 million citizens do not have a passport or driving licence.[2] For example, DVLA statistics[3] when compared with ONS population estimates[4] suggest that 67% of men have a driving license compared with 56% of women. From what we know about economic inequalities based on gender and race in the UK, a larger majority of those without the necessary photo ID will be women and BAME groups and this could act as a barrier to voting. Even provision for a free national ID card would require people to apply and some may slip through the net.

[1] WBG (2019) DWP data confirms and women and children continue to be most affected by poverty

[2] Electoral Commission (2015) Proof of identity scheme

[3] (2018) Driving license data

[4]ONS (2018) Population estimates