IF voting were easier than picking up a parcel, then more people would be voting.

Conservatives are fending off campaigners' accusations that voter ID makes voting harder by arguing that ‘ID is required to collect a parcel.’ Whilst this argument may stand up in a flashy soundbite for a debate or video clip, in actuality, it doesn’t hold up.

Though Darren Millar MS claimed differently in the Senedd, collecting a Royal Mail parcel does not require photo ID. This echoes other supporters of voter ID’s remarks, with some saying it is easier to return an ASOS parcel than to vote. 

However, the reality is that the process of collecting a parcel is easier and more accessible then voting would become under the UK Conservative Governmentt's proposals for voter ID which would see solely photo ID made mandatory for voters at polling stations. 

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A direct comparison: a driving license or passport costs £34-£75.50 and takes upwards of a week to acquire, collecting a parcel is free and has a variety of ID requirements that allow people to collect their parcel. This list includes a credit and debit card.

Firstly, it’s worth bearing in mind that the 2019 Conservative manifesto originally sought to introduce non-photographic identification in order to be able to vote. This measure is comparable to returning a parcel where there are wider types of identity cards you can present, including a credit/debit card.

But the Elections Bill introduced this year bypasses the Conservatives’ original approach, and declares that you must present photographic identification to be able to vote. Whilst a wide range of IDs to be able to vote risks voters being turned away, limiting this to photo ID is disastrous and exclusionary. First time voters, older voters, homeless voters, voters with disabilities, transgender voters, and Black, Asian, and ethnic minority voters are all less likely to have access to acceptable photo ID.

Furthermore, though voter ID is required in most European countries, it is not a comparable situation to in the UK. Whilst all of these countries have universal ID, Wales and the rest of the UK do not. And even countries with universal ID allow for wider forms of identification to be used for voting, such as debit cards or proxy voting.

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The UK Government says that a free electoral identity scheme will prevent disenfranchisement. In reality, this will cost £180m over ten years and whilst we have no details about how this scheme will work, we do know that this colossal cost of it will be borne by local councils. The lack of detail provided by the government about the workings of this scheme is concerning when the future of democratic participation hangs in the balance. 

If the Conservatives are claiming that returning an ASOS parcel is easier than voting, then accessing an electoral identity card needs to be as simple as the 45 seconds it takes to be emailed a QR code for the return. Instead, these flashy arguments trivialise what is a serious change to voting rights.

Lastly, and most frustratingly, it is upsetting to see politicians elected in constituencies with turnouts not even at 50% display such a flippant attitude to a problem that risks detrimentally lowering election turnouts. 

The democratic deficit in Wales is alive and kicking, and no wonder, if politicians aren’t recognising that people are more likely to go to the effort of collecting a parcel than to vote. 

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Low turnout is exactly the problem Senedd elections need to be tackling and deploying such exclusionary tactics as voter ID in our UK General Elections is a huge blow for Welsh democracy overall. Voter ID is not the path to building trust and participation in democracy. And neither are factually incorrect sound bites.

Maddy Dhesi was a first time voter this May and a campaigner at Hands Off Our Vote