Devon elections 2023: Jess Bailey criticises voter ID scheme

Devon County and East Devon District Cllr Jess Bailey (Independent, Otter Valley) is concerned about the rule’s impact on democracy and that it favours the Conservatives.

Rob Kershaw 

A government scheme requiring voters to show identification at polling stations has been criticised.

The new rule means that people will need to bring a certain form of ID – which include passports and drivers’ licenses – or they won’t be able to vote. It will come into effect at local elections in less than two months.

Among accepted IDs are older people’s bus passes, but not those for young people or students.

Devon County and East Devon District Cllr Jess Bailey (Independent, Otter Valley) is concerned about the rule’s impact on democracy and that it favours the Conservatives.

Speaking on Devoncast, a new weekly podcast, she said: “My view is that it’s an absolutely terrible scheme.

“Not only is it a terrible scheme that discriminates against younger people, but it also has been introduced far too late before the local elections.

“There’s an established principle that you don’t start messing around with rules relating to elections within the six months prior to those elections.

“Well, this government’s completely ignored that by introducing these rules at the last minute and I don’t think people are aware of them.

“And I’m really, really concerned that instead of making our system more robust, I think it’s actually going to disenfranchise thousands of people across the country.”

Cllr Bailey claims the rule is “designed to take votes away from non-Tory voters,” and warns of the risk of people being turned away from polling stations in May.

Former Conservative MP Neil Parish, who resigned last year, accepted that the deployment of the new scheme could have been better, but feels that it is needed to prevent voter fraud.

“I think it is actually necessary for people to identify themselves,” he told Devoncast.

“I think we are actually slow in rolling it out and we are slow in getting the necessary information to people.

“I think it’s necessary, I think we’ve got to make sure that the district councils get the information out and I would accept what Jess says – it’s getting close to the election now.

“But I think it’s really necessary because I think, in the end, we need to make sure everyone who votes are who they say they are.

“I think most people don’t actually pretend to be somebody they are not, but in some parts of the country it has happened, and I think it’s right to get it.

“Jess is right, there will be first problems in the first instance, but at some stage we do need to bring this in to make sure who is voting are exactly who they say they are.”

3 thoughts on “Devon elections 2023: Jess Bailey criticises voter ID scheme

  1. I scanned the Midweek Herald too quickly! On page 10 is ‘Voter ID scheme criticised’. Why are all other EDDC cllrs leaving the issue for you?.

    Sent from my iPad



  2. There’s been far more election fraud via the postal voting system than there has ever been via personation.

    Postal voting remains wide open to manipulation, with only the most obvious and simple methods having been addressed.

    So this is voter suppression, pure and simple. Neil Parish is thoughtlessly trotting out the party line.


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